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: 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

May 21, 2016

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2009. We were given tickets to see a Nats baseball game. So we took Mattie to the stadium and I will never forget that day. For two reasons. The first was that there were several army representatives at the game handing out t-shirts to the public. One fellow took one look at Mattie and walked over and gave him an "Army Strong" shirt. He felt that Mattie deserved it. The other reason that I remember so vividly was how people were staring at Mattie. You would have thought we did something grossly wrong with the stares and whispers we were receiving. Peter and I weren't the only ones to notice, Mattie did as well and it left me feeling like I wanted to give everyone around me a talking to. 

Quote of the day: Do not be angry with the rain; it simply does not know how to fall upwards.  Vladimir Nabokov

This quote truly makes me laugh because I think we have all had quite enough of rain in the DC area. We are going on three weeks of rain so far and it isn't only tiring, it is depressing. 

The three photos highlighted on tonight's blog posting feature walkers passing our Faces of Hope posters on the track. 

A few years ago I created this Faces of Hope project, in which I contacted families who have a child either in treatment or in the survivorship stage of the journey. We received the consent from 26 parents and we proudly display these photos each year. I feel it is important to remind people why they are walking. Because REAL children (not just in theory) get cancer and the psychosocial impacts of treatment affect both the child and the entire family. 

In fact, there were several childhood cancer survivors depicted on these posters who attended the walk. As I told them, it means a great deal to me that they came to the walk because they a big part of the reason we raise money for psychosocial care. 

Meenu works with Peter and she and her husband took a photo with Kara, a childhood cancer survivor. There were several participants who posed with the posters and many of them did not know the child on display. I have to imagine that the poster resonated with them, and the subject matter caught their attention.  

May 20, 2016

Friday, May 20, 2016

Friday, May 20, 2016

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2009. This was one of Mattie's physical therapy sessions in the hospital hallway. Therapy with Mattie was NEVER boring. In fact, I really think Mattie pushed Anna, his physical therapist, to think way outside of the box when it came to him and therapy. Anna had to devise creative and fun ways to get Mattie up and using his body. Mainly because standing and trying to take a few steps were truly painful for Mattie. Pictured with Mattie was Linda (child life specialist), who was pushing his IV pole. Next to Linda, in purple, was Anna and then the woman Anna was pushing toward the wall was Meg. Meg was a child life intern and became Mattie's racing buddy. When Mattie did therapy, so did Meg. Meg competed with Mattie to try to inspire him to move and win the race. These ladies were great at hamming things up and the more they did, the more Mattie participated! 

Quote of the day: When I hear somebody sigh, ‘Life is hard,’ I am always tempted to ask, ‘Compared to what?' ~ Sydney Harris

For the next several days, I will post photos from this year's walk. Before the walk actually began, both Peter and I addressed the crowd, thanked them for attending, for helping us raise funds for the psychosocial needs of children with cancer, and of course reminded them why they were walking.

As of today, we have raised over $85,000 at the walk, and we had around 400 attendees!

This was the crowd on the track that we were speaking to! Herman, our photographer, stands on a tall step ladder to get the significance and volume of the crowd.

The crowd is comprised of teams and individual walkers, of all ages, eager to help us fill the cup wall and meet the challenge (challenge = if the wall got filled with cups then Mattie's grandparents would donate $3,000 to the Foundation to start a second Mattie Miracle snack/item cart). 

You can see the walkers moving passed Herman on the ladder!

The first lap!

It was a super cool and windy day (try 30MPH winds)! It maybe hard to determine this by looking at the photos, but this is the first Walk in which I had to wear long pants, layers, and a wool coat!

Pictured with me is Tricia, Mattie's favorite HEM/ONC nurse. Tricia was there for Mattie, Peter, and me during the good and bad times at the hospital and is not only a competent nurse but an amazing advocate. 

Behind us is Toni (with the pink headband), along with Brandon (Mattie's closest buddy in the hospital) and Gigi (Brandon's niece). We met Toni and Brandon pretty soon in the treatment process, because Brandon was diagnosed with Lymphoma a month after Mattie's diagnosis. We spent many days and hours in the hospital together and Mattie gravitated to Brandon. Despite their ten year age difference, Mattie considered Brandon his best friend. Brandon never misses a Foundation Walk!

After a walker completes a lap, they get a colorful cup (each team has their own cup color) to place in our challenge wall. This is a photo of some of our volunteers dancing to the DJ's music as they distribute cups to walkers. 

Then each of the cups gets walked over to the challenge wall where volunteers insert them into the chain linked fence (which serves as our challenge wall).

The beauty of the challenge wall! It is a rainbow of colors.

Volunteers work very hard to tally the cups being placed in the wall. Since each color corresponds to a different walk team, it is therefore possible to determine which team has completed the most laps (1 cup = 1 lap). 

The cup challenge was won by the SAINTS team this year. This team was comprised of students from the St. Stephen's and St. Agnes School. Each team is given 240 cups to begin with and the first team to walk 240 laps collectively (60 miles) wins the cup challenge. 

May 19, 2016

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2009. Mattie's friends brought him a kiddie pool and pool toys for his hospital room! Mattie's room was as small as a postage stamp but I got used to living in a closet sized room along with all the toys that filled the room on a daily basis. Frankly anything that engaged Mattie and made him feel happier were welcomed!

Quote of the day: It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done. ~ Vincent van Gogh

I am still trying to process through all the Mattie Miracle Walk photos. I will start posting them soon. In the mean time, I am sharing with you an article that was posted in the Alexandria News as well as a press release that was circulated on-line thanks to IBC, our Mattie Miracle Level sponsor. 

Alexandria News: Alexandria Community Helps Raise More Than $84,000 To Help Fight Childhood Cancer

IBC, a DBS Company, Helps Raise More Than $84,000 To Help Fight Childhood Cancer

May 18, 2016

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2009. Mattie's community held an event in his honor to show their support and to encourage him through his treatment. The event was held at Mattie's school. Pictured with Mattie were his friends Charlotte and Campbell. This event is what inspired the creation of the annual Mattie Miracle walk, and both Charlotte and Campbell continue to attend and participate!

Quote of the day: Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity ~ Henry Van Dyke

I took my parents to Dumbarton House today. It is located in Georgetown, and again this is something I NEVER did! Which is ironic since I live so close to this historic house. But this is not something I would do on my own, it is much nicer to experience it with someone else. Fortunately my mom enjoys doing this as much as I do. I knew of Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown, which is a museum and amazing garden. But I never heard of Dumbarton House, which is a completely separate entity and has NOTHING to do with Dumbarton Oaks. 

Dumbarton House was built by Samuel Jackson, a Philadelphia merchant, just before the Federal government moved from Philadelphia to the newly established national capital of Washington, a separate town in the District of Columbia. However, Jackson and his family lived there only briefly and the mortgage he had given, and then title to the property, soon passed to the United States. In 1804, the property was purchased at auction by Joseph Nourse, the first Register of the United States Treasury. An advertisement for the upcoming sale described the interior of the house in some detail: ". . . a large two story brick house with a passage through the center, four rooms on a floor & good cellars. The front rooms are about 17 by 18 feet – the back rooms are semicircular and are about 22 by 17 feet – the passage 9 feet wide and 38 feet long – two brick offices [wings] two stories high 17 feet 6 inches square & are connected with the House by covered ways. . .  

In 1813, the Nourses sold the property to Charles Carroll of Belle Vue (he was a cousin of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, signer of the Declaration of Independence). The purchaser was also a friend of President James Madison and his wife Dolley. It is this “Mr. Carroll” to whom Dolley is referring in her famous letter describing the events of August 24, 1814, the day the British burned the "President's House" in the War of 1812. ". . . Our kind friend, Mr. Carroll, has come to hasten my departure, and is in a very bad humor with me because I insist on waiting until the large picture of Gen. Washington is secured, and it requires to be unscrewed from the wall .... " When Dolley was finally satisfied that the Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington was safe, she came to Dumbarton House, as Mr. Carroll told her the President had requested, to await further word on where the couple should meet.

Dumbarton House was built in the 1800's and provides a unique opportunity to view one of the finest examples of Federal period architecture in the U.S., along with its impressive furniture and decorative arts collections. It helps you imagine what life was like in the earliest days of our nation’s capital. In addition to being a historic house museum, Dumbarton House is also the headquarters of The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America (The organization strives to inspire a true spirit of patriotism and a genuine love of country. It promotes interest in the stories surrounding our Colonial origins and invites all people to honor the wisdom and valor of those whose sacrifices and achievements gave birth to our nation.)

From the outside, Dumbarton House presents a large central block, balanced by smaller two-story wings on each side. The wings in turn are connected to the central block by matching hyphens. The large windows in the central block and the semicircular fanlight over the main entrance are features that made an appearance only during the Federal period.

This was the entrance way into the home. If you look closely the floor is made out of WOOD. However, on top of the wood is a checkered pattern made out of laminated canvas. OF ALL THINGS! This was designed to protect the wooden floors, as visitors in those days had to journey through mud to get there. So by the time they arrived and entered the home, they would be tracking mud into the home. It was a much easier clean up the mud off the canvas than wood. In addition, the hallway was this stark because it was also used to entertain and have musicians and dances! Therefore the chairs were light and could be removed from the hallway, which made it super easy to host parties. 

During the Federal period, there is a movement away from the elaborate carving and rococo curves and flourishes previously found on furniture, silver, and other objects. Now, straight lines, smooth surfaces, and contrast achieved not by means of the shadows of carved wood but with inlay of contrasting woods, and even with paint, characterize the furniture. Pieces tend to be smaller and lighter for both practical and aesthetic reasons. Social life of the period is characterized by a greater degree of informality, so that furniture is rearranged in rooms as the occasion and the company require.

This bedroom was located on the first floor of the house. Why? Because this was pre-electricity and central heat. Therefore it was easier to carry candles from the living space into the bedroom and keep this room heated, rather than having to heat a second floor where the other bedrooms were located. On the bed was a band box. I had NO IDEA what that was. But apparently clothes were folded and stored in these boxes. When the boxes were purchased they were plain on the outside. It was the owner of the band box who would decorate the outside of the box typically with wall paper samples from their home. Band boxes have actually documented what actual wallpapers looked like in certain houses, because the pattern on the box lasts longer than what goes on the walls. With sun light and daily use, wallpaper fades, but that is not true of the fabric on these band boxes. 

The gardens at Dumbarton House were equally charming and lush! I think ALL the rain we have had is making the greenery pop and catch your attention. 

May 17, 2016

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Tuesday, May 17, 2016 -- Mattie died 348 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken on May 11, 2009. At the Mattie March, he was greeted by the baseball coaches and the entire team! They even gave Mattie a signed ball! I heard later that day that the team won, and they all credited it to Mattie! 

Quote of the day: Why did you do all this for me?' he asked. 'I don't deserve it. I've never done anything for you.' 'You have been my friend,' replied Charlotte. 'That in itself is a tremendous thing. E.B. White

My parents and I toured Tudor Place today in Georgetown. It is rather funny that this historic house is right around the corner from me and after all these years of living in DC, I never visited it! It took my parents to visit for me to venture out. 

Tudor Place is one of America’s first National Historic Landmarks. It was built by a granddaughter of Martha Washington and a son of Robert Peter, a prominent Scottish-born merchant and landowner and Georgetown’s first mayor. With an inheritance from George Washington, Thomas and Martha Custis Peter purchased 8½ acres of farmland on Georgetown Heights. Dr. William Thornton, architect of the first U.S. Capitol and a family friend, designed the grand neoclassical house, which was completed in 1816.

The estate remained under continuous Peter family ownership through six generations spanning 178 years, its rooms a destination for leading politicians, military leaders, and dignitaries. After the 1983 death of Armistead Peter 3rd, the founders’ great-great-grandson, the site was opened to the public in accordance with his wishes. Now a historic house and garden museum, it remains one of the nation’s few historic urban estates retaining the majority of its original landscape. 

On 5½ acres, Tudor Place remains one of America’s last intact urban estates from the Federal Period. Its open lawns and garden rooms are a delight and a useful historical record of land use over time. Thomas and Martha Custis Peter put their land to agricultural and ornamental uses. Trees and shrubs they cultivated still grow on the site today.
Surrounding the historic house, one can find a variety of gardens including formal gardens, natural woodland settings, English perennial gardens and more. 

Through six generations of peace and war, nation-building and political upheaval, prosperity and financial hardship, four members of the Peter family owned and preserved the property. Under their stewardship, the gardens evolved from urban farmstead uses to recreational and ornamental purposes, changing along with the wider economy and culture.
Despite the intense winds and rains, the roses were in full bloom! 
The beauty of this beautifully planned garden!

May 16, 2016

Monday, May 16, 2016

Monday, May 16, 2016

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2007. Mattie was outside on our deck and being his usual creative self. Fishing for toys on the lid of his sandbox. Mattie loved to fish with Peter on the Potomac River, and with some imagination the top of his frog sandbox served as a boat, the deck was the ocean, and the toys were his fish. Mattie is no longer with us, but his frog sandbox remains. It no longer sits on our deck but in our commons area. I do not have the heart to part with it, and now all the children in the complex come by and play with it. 

Quote of the day: Definiteness of purpose is the starting point of all achievement. ~ W. Clement Stone

Herman, our Walk photographer, sent us his photos from yesterday's walk. We were so surprised to get them back already. I love the way Herman captures the energy and rhythm of our walk. 

Peter and I gave a short greet on the track before the Walk began! As you can see people were beginning to line up.

Herman was standing up on a ladder to capture this photo. He asked us all to lift our hands up and wave. I just love this photo!

Then IBC, our Mattie Miracle Level Sponsor sounded the cow bells and the walk began!

This helps you get a feeling for the large number of people and walkers present. 

Around the track we have 26 Faces of Hope posters. Each photo is of a child or teen who is battling cancer or is a cancer survivor. Our goal is to remind participants why they are walking and not to forget that childhood cancer is not just about the medicine! That there are long term psychological, social, and emotional consequences that continue after the treatment ends.

There were 13 walk teams this year. This is the SSSAS 2020 walk team, captained by Mattie "girlfriend," Charlotte. The team is comprised of children in Mattie's graduating class. Charlotte's team raised over $3,000.
This is a photo of the RCC Moms Rock walk team, captained by Ann Henshaw. This team won the TOP ADULT team fundraising award two years in a row. This year they raised over $6,000. Many of the women on this team were fellow moms with me at Mattie's preschool. 
This is a photo of the Blessed Sacrament Bullfrogs walk team. This team has been a part of our event two years in a row and they come to the walk energized to meet the walk challenge. 

Mattie's grandparents (both sets) sponsored the Challenge Wall this year. If walkers could fill the wall with cups, then Mattie's grandparents would donate $3,000 to the Foundation to launch a second snack/item cart, in a brand new location...... Children's Hospital at Sinai in Baltimore. 


A photo of Peter, my mom, and me by the cup wall!
We had a cup tally scoreboard by the Wall this year. The SAINTS walk team won the challenge because they were the first team to use up their supply of green cups. What this means is that the group collectively walked 240 laps, or in essence 60 miles. 

How do I know this? Well there are 240 cups in a box. A walker earns one cup per lap. Therefore 240 cups = 240 laps. We know that four laps around the track is equivalent to one mile. So 240 divided by 4, gives us 60 miles.  

Top Walk Teams by laps:

SAINTS (456 laps, they finished their color and started on another cup color altogether)

Blessed Sacrament Bullfrogs (235 laps)

SSSAS 2020 (161 laps)

RCC Moms Rock (160 laps)

May 15, 2016

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2009. Mattie was with two of my students, Ariel and Tess. Ironically both of these women are now nurses! Mattie had a wonderful day at the walk his community planned for him! I just loved seeing him smile that day, it was a very memorable day and every time we plan a walk and are on that track, I can't help but be transformed back to May 11, 2009. 

Quote of the day: A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal. Steve Maraboli

The Walk was a HUGE success today. I don't say that lightly because I am usually my worst critic. Not only did we exceed our targeted goal, but I could sense the energy in the air. People of all ages were having a great time.

The weather however was one for the books! It was cold this morning and throughout the day we had 30mph winds which made set up with tents and tablecloths down right impossible. We spent over an hour trying to comply with fire, safety and health inspections. Tents were almost airborne, flames to cook food were being blown out in the wind, and forget the moon bounces. They couldn't be inflated in 30 MPH winds. Yet as this photo shows, we had a record breaking registration!

We had 13 teams this year. As you can see Team SSSAS 2020 (Mattie's graduating class, lead by Mattie's "girlfriend" Charlotte) was a huge team!

A photos of the Walk and our "Faces of Hope" posters. These posters feature the courage, beauty, and strength of children and teens who survived childhood cancer. Of course because one survives cancer, doesn't mean that the psychological battle isn't over. That lasts a lifetime. 

The corn hole boards were a HUGE success!!! People were very energized by them and this made Peter and me very happy because they were LABOR of LOVES for Peter. 

Top Prize (iPad mini) went to Mike Grusholt

Second Prize (2 nats tickets, 4 potomac national tickets, and 10 raffle tickets) went to Alice Hurley

Third Prize ($25 restaurant gift card and 5 raffle tickets) went to Sue Whitney

This is what our cup tally board by our cup challenge wall looked it! The wall was filled with cups and our teams and individual walkers met our grandparent challenge. Which means that Mattie's grand parents will donate $3,000 for us to start up a second snack cart. Our first cart exists at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and the new cart will go to Children's Hospital at Sinai in Baltimore!

Team SAINTS (students from St. Stephen's and St. Agnes School, Alexandria, VA) won the cup challenge as their team of OVER 40 students walked over 60 miles collectively and had the most cups in our challenge wall.