Mattie Miracle 2021 Walk was a $125,000 success!

Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation Promotional Video

Thank you for keeping Mattie's memory alive!

Dear Mattie Blog Readers,

It means a great deal to us that you take the time to write to us and to share your thoughts, feelings, and reflections on Mattie's battle and death. Your messages are very meaningful to us and help support us through very challenging times. To you we are forever grateful. As my readers know, I promised to write the blog for a year after Mattie's death, which would mean that I could technically stop writing on September 9, 2010. However, at the moment, I feel like our journey with grief still needs to be processed and fortunately I have a willing support network still committed to reading. Therefore, the blog continues on. If I should find the need to stop writing, I assure you I will give you advanced notice. In the mean time, thank you for reading, thank you for having the courage to share this journey with us, and most importantly thank you for keeping Mattie's memory alive.


As Mattie would say, Ooga Booga (meaning, I LOVE YOU)! Vicki and Peter



The Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation celebrates its 7th anniversary!

The Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation was created in the honor of Mattie.

We are a 501(c)(3) Public Charity. We are dedicated to increasing childhood cancer awareness, education, advocacy, research and psychosocial support services to children, their families and medical personnel. Children and their families will be supported throughout the cancer treatment journey, to ensure access to quality psychosocial and mental health care, and to enable children to cope with cancer so they can lead happy and productive lives. Please visit the website at: www.mattiemiracle.com and take some time to explore the site.

We have only gotten this far because of people like yourself, who have supported us through thick and thin. So thank you for your continued support and caring, and remember:

.... Let's Make the Miracle Happen and Stomp Out Childhood Cancer!

A Remembrance Video of Mattie

November 4, 2012

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Tonight's picture was taken on October 20, 2008. The picture was taken at 6:45am, an ungodly hour of the morning, as Mattie was being prepped for his first limb salvaging surgery. Why on earth we were all smiling is beyond my comprehension. Other than one is just conditioned to smile for a camera. Nonetheless, I felt documentation was important and I took pictures with the thinking that Mattie would look back on his treatment days and say... wow I did this? Those days never came. But in all reality on October 20th, we were stressed out and beyond scared of what the next several hours held for Mattie. Peter was allowed to walk into the operating room with Mattie so Mattie wouldn't be alone until he was sedated. Only one of us was allowed to do this, so I was happy Peter handled that aspect of the day. Keep in mind what this day held for Mattie and us.... We wheeled Mattie from the PICU to the pre-op area of the Hospital at 6:45am. At 8am the surgery began. Mattie's surgery did not end until 4pm. At 4pm, Mattie was transferred to the PACU (Post Anesthesia Care Unit), where he spent the next four hours recovering. Mattie did not return to his PICU room until 8pm. Keep in mind that returning the PICU did not mean he was in great shape. Mattie had intense pain. In fact Mattie's first two surgeries had a mismanaged pain plan, but by the third surgery, we addressed that problem with enough screaming. So in total we are talking about a 14 hour day for Mattie, and unfortunately that was only one of three surgeries he underwent. It is no surprise given all that Mattie endured, the mental health impact on him and us was significant.
 

Quote of the day: Happy people plan actions, they don't plan results. ~ Dennis Wholey

As promised, I took a lot of pictures of our Saturday away at Cape May. Peter and I are back in DC now. I would like to share our trip with you through pictures. However,  one thing I quickly learned is that Cape May is not around the corner, it took us three and a half hours to drive there, and 90 minutes of which are on one lane back roads.


On our drive to Cape May, we saw this in the distance. A huge cow statue. In Pilesgrove, NJ, is located COWTOWN RODEO.  Being a cow affectionato, this whole venue caught my attention!
Cowtown Rodeo was started in 1929 by Howard Harris Sr. and his son, Howard "Stoney" Harris Jr. Stoney held the first rodeo in Woodstown NJ, in conjunction with the Salem County Fair, at the original auction grounds on North Main Street. Presently this ground is known as Harris Acres, with the back stretch of the race track now being the Presbyterian Church on Auburn Road. The rodeo was held annually during the County Fair until 1937. World War II caused the rodeo to be put on hold until 1955 when Howard Harris III, Stoney's son, came back from the University of Idaho carrying the 1954 National Intercollegiate All Around Rodeo Championship saddle with him. Howard and Stoney worked together in establishing what is now known as the "oldest weekly rodeo in the United States." Cowtown Rodeo was, and is, known nationwide due to live national TV exposure in 1957 and 1958 and taped exposure nationwide in 1968 and 1969. The rodeo outgrew the original arena and in 1967 Howard built the present arena with a seating capacity of 4000.


As we were driving on the NJ Garden State Parkway, two things caught our attention. First were the clouds with sunlight trying to stream through them. This looked very ethereal. The second thing was the sign. Can you read it? It says, "Fuel restriction north of exit 91, ODD Lic Plates Only." This sign immediately lets drivers know of the devastation from Hurricane Sandy just north of us. On Saturday, only license plates with odd numbers were able to get gas north of where we were.


 
Entering into Cape May
Cape May is a city at the southern tip of Cape May Peninsula in Cape May County, New Jersey, where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. One of the country's oldest vacation resort destinations. With a rich history, award-winning beaches, designation as a top birdwatching location, and many examples of Victorian architecture, Cape May is a seaside resort drawing visitors from around the world. Cape May was recognized as one of America's top 10 beaches by the Travel Channel and its beach was ranked fifth in New Jersey in the 2008 Top 10 Beaches Contest.

 
Peter snapped a picture of me before we headed to the wedding reception. The wedding was in Sea Isle City, NJ, and our hotel was in Cape May. The church and the reception were about 35-40 minutes away from Cape May.
 
 
I tried to take a picture of Larry and Michele. However, I wasn't at the best of angles. They were married at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, and this picture was during the exchange of vows. I believe it is natural for weddings to remind married couples of their own wedding. It isn't unusual in a Catholic wedding to hear about the wishes for a couple to have children and to bring them up in the Catholic religion. I remember hearing this at my own wedding. Of course at the time that seemed like a wonderful and happy wish for our future. However, I have seen the future, a future most married couples will never know or see fortunately. That of a child dying before them. So hearing about this dialogue of children just made me sad. Actually hearing about weddings and the birth of children make me very sad in general. This may not be understandable to my readers, since these are considered happy and blessed occasions. But for me, these occasions are symbolic of very different things. So needless to say, I am not the best company at happy events and occasions.

 
Larry and Michele's reception was held in Avalon, NJ. This was one of the views I captured from the yacht club. Unlike Cape May, Avalon was hit a bit more by Hurricane Sandy. As we drove through Avalon, we could see piles of garbage, furniture, and rugs outside of almost every house. Indicative of the damage inside.
 
This morning when we woke up and opened our curtains, this was the view we saw. When I checked into our hotel yesterday, the person at the desk, who I swear reminded me of an under taker, gave me a free room upgrade. He gave me a room with a wonderful view of the Atlantic. The sun desperately tried to burst through the grayness all around us. Despite the gray and cold weather (it was in the 40s on the Cape), seeing the water and sea birds were wonderful.  
 
Cape May looked a lot different before the fire of 1878. The town is the oldest seashore resort in the nation. In the 1800's, Cape May had quite a collection of classically designed seaside hotels. The fire of 1878 wiped out 30 blocks of the early seashore town, including some of the resort's major hotels. In the next several photos I will share some history of the Cape's architecture, along with a photo of one of the many beautiful homes. This house is called Cape S Cape. A play on words.... for Cape Escape.
 
To this day, when someone in Cape May talks about "the fire" they're referring to this major event more than a hundred years ago. The town wasted no time rebuilding. For the most part, the new buildings that went up were built in the modern style of the day...later known as the Victorian style... lots of gingerbread trim, gables and turrets. This Blue Lady caught my attention as we took a walking tour of the town.
 
The fire explains the huge concentration of late 19th Century dwellings in Cape May today...everything from Gothic Revival to Queen Anne design...all part of the country's Victorian era. This is the Hotel Macomber which was built at the turn of the century and was the last Historic Landmark building erected in Cape May.
 
The homes were mostly single family seashore homes. They're often called "painted ladies" because of their colorful appearance. But those beautiful Victorian homes faced a new threat a hundred years later...just as serious as the fire of 1878.
It was the push to demolish the old, to make way for brand new construction in the last half of the 20th Century that almost did more damage than the fire of 1878. In the fall of 1894, William H. Church, a contractor and builder, of West Cape May, began work on a 60-room boarding house at the foot of Ocean Street opposite the Star Villas, one of the most delightful locations on the beachfront. The structure was to be four stories high with a French roof and roomy porches from which there would always be an unobstructed view. The house was to be fitted throughout with steam heat in order to remain open all year. Gas lights were installed and an electric ball system. Special family rates were offered. One hundred thirty-five guests could be accommodated. It was to be known as the Colonial and to be operated by the builder himself. Today this is what the Colonial looks like and it had a name change to the Inn at Cape May.
 
Many fine old buildings were lost in the new building blitz before the entire town was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1976. But once they were saved from demolition, the question was how were they going to be maintained. Few modern day families could maintain an eight or ten bedroom house, with high ceilings, formal parlors, and often maids' quarters. There are so many houses to choose from, but this Yellow Lady deserved a photo.
 
Slowly, many of Cape May's huge Victorian seaside "cottages" have been turned into bed and breakfast inns, guest houses and even restaurants. They could no longer be maintained as private houses! Check out this Pink Lady! 

Congress Hall
For almost two centuries the hotel has offered hospitality to locals and visitors alike. It began life in 1816 as a simple boarding house for summer visitors to one of America's earliest seaside resorts. Its owner, Thomas H. Hughes, called his new boarding house "The Big House." The local people had other ideas, though. Convinced the building was far too large to ever be a success they nicknamed it "Tommy's Folly." In this first incarnation it was a quite different affair. Downstairs was a single room that served as the dining room for all the guests, who stayed in simply partitioned quarters on the two upper floors. The walls and woodwork were bare and supplies of provisions were at times unreliable. Guests were undeterred by the Spartan conditions and summer after summer the new hotel was packed to bursting. In 1828, Hughes had been elected to Congress and in honor of his new status his hotel was renamed Congress Hall. As Congress Hall's reputation grew, so did Cape May's. By the middle of the 19th Century Cape May had become a booming holiday destination, rivaling Saratoga and Newport for popularity. Congress Hall had doubled in size and was welcoming guests from around the region, but in 1878 the building was destroyed when a huge fire swept through 38 acres of Cape May's seafront. Within a year, the owners rebuilt the hotel, this time in brick rather than wood, and business blossomed once again. The hotel and Cape May proved so popular that they gained renown as a summer retreat for the nation's presidents. Ulysses S. Grant, Franklin Pierce, and James Buchanan all chose to vacation here. President Benjamin Harrison made Congress Hall his "summer White House" and conducted the affairs of state from the hotel.

 
Peter and I had breakfast at Congress Hall! I am enamored by historic hotels and from my perspective it was worth a wait in the Hotel's library to get a seat into the Blue Pig Tavern (the restaurant inside of Congress Hall).
 
Congress Hall, in my opinion, is one of the loveliest hotels in Cape May. Its old world charm and elegance, reminds you of a by gone era. The hotel, unlike others, is very well maintained. The Blue Pig Tavern serves locally grown food, the setting is very charming with a wonderful wood burning fire setting the room aglow, and the china used today reflects the same hollowware pattern manufactured by the Buffalo Pottery Company from the late 18th century.
 
The Hotel has charming gardens and views of the Atlantic Ocean. You can see the rocking chairs lined up outside Congress Hall for visitors to enjoy their surroundings during warmer weather.
 

After breakfast, we walked through the town's main shopping "mall." There were pumpkins, gourds, Indian Corn, and mums all over to celebrate Fall.

A Pretty Lady on Ocean Street

My name sake! The Queen Victoria Bed and Breakfast.

To me this is a Hot Pink Cutie!

My last photo is that of the Chalfonte Hotel. This historic Hotel was established in 1876. It is recognized as the oldest continuously operating hotel in Cape May, America's Original Seaside Resort.
 

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