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 5, 2018

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2006. Mattie was four years old. That day I took him to the Reston Zoo. At the time, that was a small zoo, that was really geared to the preschooler. Lots of hands on activities, but in a more intimate setting than our larger National Zoo. Didn't Mattie make a cute sheep?

Quote of the day: You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.Friedrich Nietzsche

I absolutely love tonight's quote, because I am hoping through all the chaos we are living through now, that the Walk on May 20th, is a shining star. Practically every room in our home has something Walk related in it. It is challenging to plan the Walk, but also a logistical nightmare, as Walk materials come out of storage and fill up our home. You maybe asking yourself what kind of stuff?

Try over 5,000 colorful cups to start with, as we use cups to denote each lap an individual completes. Then we have hundreds of Mattie Miracle professionally printed posters. Posters that highlight our work, childhood cancer facts, and children and families impacted by cancer. This year, we also bought 6 pop up tents because I am tired of not having access to the tents we need for our activities and vendors. So all of this is going on in our living and dining rooms.

Whereas, I am happy to report that Mattie's room was cleared out today as we delivered ten wrapped raffle baskets, their ticket holders, and placards to our raffle chair. My second floor headache has now become Carolyn's. It isn't only our home impacted by the Walk, it is Carolyn's and my friends, Christine and Debbie. Christine is our registration chair, and soon her home will be filled with over 400 t-shirts and Walk programs. Debbie is our children's craft coordinator and her home is being transformed by bug and flower crafts at the moment. I know why we take on this Walk challenge, but you have to really admire our friends who volunteer to be a part of this chaos. 

A visual of our first floor. Boxes all over the place of colorful cups. Each cup color represents a different Walk team. Peter helped me tremendously today reassemble all of these boxes and then placed the appropriate colored cup in each box. Since storing all these boxes would be unwieldy in storage, we break down the boxes and store them and the cups in bins. So the process to assembling and disassembling is tedious. 

Meanwhile under our staircase are Foundation posters. Of which we have to go through them and figure out which ones will go on display this year. 

Also keep in mind that I met with the printer on Friday and have 40 new posters to display this year. Just trying to paint a picture of the level of effort it takes to put the Walk together. 

May 4, 2018

Friday, May 4, 2018

Friday, May 4, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2007. Mattie was five years old and in preschool. One of the things he did in class was a tracing of his body image. You know.... you get down on the floor and someone traces an outline of your body. Taped to Mattie's bedroom door was the tracing. Mattie colored it in and wanted it on his door to signify that it was his room. Mattie always loved his door decorated with things... ribbons, stickers, art projects, and the drawing in blue on the door says... Mattie (and a magnet symbol). At Mattie's school they always assigned a symbol to every child. The symbol started with the same letter as the child's name. So Mattie's second year of preschool, he was Mattie Magnet. Nonetheless, everyone always called him Mattie Moon, which was the symbol given to Mattie during his first year of preschool. 

Quote of the day: Let me tell you the secret that has led to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity. ~ Louis Pasteur

It is 10:45pm and I am still working on the Walk! As of yesterday we raised, $58,729. Today, our fundraising thermometer reads... $61,178. We are 72% of the way toward our $85,000 goal. I wish I could say that raising money is easy or that it gets easier with every year. Certainly the more you do it, the more you know how to fundraise, but regardless of how many Walks we host, I will always be worried as to whether we will make our goal! It is actually stressful, and probably one of the hardest job I have ever done. It is difficult and stressful because of what the Foundation symbolizes. It is Mattie's memory and legacy and therefore, to me the Walk isn't just any event. 

In addition, to expelling cerebral energy, there is a physical energy component. It involves running around picking up items, dealing with permits, raffle items, heavy lifting of Walk materials from storage to our home, and the list goes on. With each successive year, I ask myself..... will I have the energy to keep doing this Walk? The verdict is still out, but for now, I am signing off. 

May 3, 2018

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken on May 11, 2009. Mattie was attending the Mattie March that his support community planned for him. The March was designed to be fun and to show Mattie that his community was proud of him and stood beside him. Sitting next to Mattie is Bob Weiman, Mattie's head of school. Also known as the magic man. Bob visited Mattie often in the hospital and taught him many magic tricks. One of them was called the Peanut Butter Booger trick, which Mattie always chuckled over. Bob continues to perform this same trick each year at our Walk, and he now lovingly calls this trick..... the Mattie Brown. Do notice, the young fellow behind Mattie. That is Brandon, Mattie closest friend in cancer. He and Brandon were diagnosed around the same time and became friends, despite the difference in age. I just love how Brandon was protecting Mattie from the sun by holding up an umbrella. That simple gesture says so much to me!

Quote of the day: If it were not for hope, the heart would break. ~ Thomas Fuller 

As we launch into the final countdown of weeks until the Walk, more stress builds up. Especially as it relates to meeting our targeted goal. Fortunately I have experience with this stress year after year, but of course there is always the question, WHAT IF WE DO NOT MEET THE GOAL? That is in the back of my mind always. But fortunately there are days like today, that instill hope. As we raised close to $3,000 today alone. So our grand total is $58,729, putting us at 69% of our goal. 

Our top 8 fundraisers so far this year are:

  1. Peggy Elkind ($5,157)
  2. Ann Henshaw ($2,550)
  3. Jane Pisano ($2,250)
  4. Virginia and Mauro Sardi ($2,165)
  5. David Elkind ($1,850)
  6. Ronee Weissman ($1,000)
  7. Me ($804)
  8. Peter Brown ($744; Mind you Peter and I do not actively solicit funds for "our" team. But we are grateful to people who wish to personally support our efforts. 

Our top five teams so far are:

  1. THAT walk team
  2. RCC and Friends
  3. Mattie Moon
  4. Blessed Sacrament Bullfrogs
  5. Team Tilch

To find out more about the Walk and to support our efforts, go to:

May 2, 2018

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2007. Mattie was five years old and was sitting next to me at our dining room table! Do not ask me what Mattie was eating. I can detect carrots and cheese, as he loved both. But what I love was the smile Peter captured. This was Mattie's look that he would give us when he was busy, distracted, or simply did not want to take a photo. Yet even so, to me, it's still a great photo!

Quote of the day: If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea. ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Tonight's quote.... the endless immensity of the sea! Wow.... does that resonate with me! I think fundraising and event planning are like the sea. The tasks to reach one's destination are endless and overwhelming. Just like the sea, minute by minute can be unpredictable especially with regard to raising money. It can almost feel like you are drowning and unsure that you will be able to take back control of your rudderless ship. After all, without donations, the fundraising ship is lost at sea. 

I have a feeling that I know why so many of our registrants of the Walk & Family Festival do not also fundraise for us. They don't because fundraising is difficult. It requires persistence, humility, and the ability to accept a lot of rejection. A LOT!!! If I did not have to, I don't think I would sign up for humility and rejection either! It would have to be a cause I was very passionate about first. 

Yet without others helping us to fundraise, we will not meet our goal. Fortunately, I have a great group of core supporters who help me raise funds for the Walk. I was talking and emailing several of them today. I find that it helps to brainstorm and to also support one another in this very isolating and daunting task. In fact, one of our core people was telling me today that there are several people who want to be on her Walk team, because her daughter's friend in college was just diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma. We chatted about this and what caught my attention is that these college students are already aware of the psychological toll of cancer. The toll on their friend and on their friendship. Which is why Mattie Miracle's mission and programs resonates with them. 

The psychosocial consequences of cancer are like an immense sea. They build on top of one another and the issues are as far as the eye can see...... from treatment through survivorship or bereavement. So why shouldn't fundraising for the cause also be the same? It is and what I have come to appreciate is because it cancer is immense and produces immense issues, each of us has something positive we can bring to the table to help the cause. 

May 1, 2018

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Tuesday, May 1, 2018 -- Mattie died 450 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2008. Three months before Mattie was diagnosed with cancer. As you can see, Mattie had one of his toy cars up on a tinker toy car lift. A lift Mattie put together and imagined on his own. Mattie may have seen one of our cars being fixed at some point, and took that image with him. 

Quote of the day: The "hygiene theory," the idea is that early exposure to dirt, and to animals who maintain their link to the earth's microbial fecundity, trains our developing immune systems to handle stressors large and small and tamps down the immune system's occasional penchant for overreaction. ~ Melissa Healy

My mom sent me the article entitled, Does exposure to animals during childhood buffer the body's response to stress as adults? The title captured both of us, since we love animals. However, the article left me with more questions than answers since I wasn't sure what was the real focus of this article. Was the article calling attention to the differences between living in a city versus living in a rural area? Was the article trying to establish that having a pet in one's formative years is helpful to one's overall ability to manage stress? Or is it that exposure to animals boost our immune response and gives us the ability to physically handle exposure to irritants in our environment? Are we talking about managing the biological response to stress (with the release of cortisol) or the psychological (anxiety, depression, etc)? 

I gathered the article was referring to both the physical and psychological responses to stress and I found that for the most part men (as this was the gender assessed in the German study) who grew up on a farm with livestock were able to lower their stress related inflammatory response and return to a baseline stress level quicker than us city folks. But what explains this? The researchers claim that these two cohorts of men share many similarities.

In fact, the article stated: The study was very small, with only 20 young men in each group. But the researchers found the two groups well matched on a wide range of socioeconomic background factors and childhood stressors, as well as in their past and present states of mental and physical health. There was this difference, however: compared to urban participants, significantly more of the subjects who had grown up in rural areas had regular contact with pets and/or farm animals during adulthood.

The "or" above provides me with even more confusion. So is the rural person who had no pets growing up, but was exposed to live stock as an adult have the same level of strength, health, and laid back nature, as the rural person who had exposure to pets as a child? This article seems to be mixing so many variables that I am not ultimately sure what it is trying to tell me. Other than perhaps exposure to animals strengthens our immunity as they carry dirt and other microbes. 

The article to me focuses on the biological basis of stress, but what about the psychological nature of being in the presence of an animal? What are the long term benefits of this? This is far more subtle and hard to tangibly quantify. All I know however, is both Peter and I grew up with animals in our lives. I do not think it helped my immunity to allergens what so ever as an adult and therefore the hygiene theory gets blown right out of the water for me. Yet I do think exposure to animals as a child provides a very real psychological benefit and I am not surprised that the article ends by stating, "Young adults who had a pet as a child were more empathetic, more prone to choosing helping professions, and "more oriented toward social values" than were young adults who'd grown up without pets."

What saddens me however, is there are many children growing up today without any kind of pet. Mainly because of over programmed schedules, the cost of maintaining a pet, the responsibility, and lack of freedom that occurs with having a dog for example. Yet I would say that one learns a great deal from caring for something that is dependent upon you, and it ranks right up there with learning a school subject. Because unfortunately the school subject won't get you through the complexities of life, but the life skills one obtains from caregiving, lasts a lifetime. 

Does exposure to animals during childhood buffer the body's response to stress as adults?

April 30, 2018

Monday, April 30, 2018

Monday, April 30, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2008. Mattie was on our deck and playing with the garden hose. Another fun activity for Mattie..... water and getting wet. Mattie wasn't outside watering our plants! He was outside spraying water everywhere.... everywhere that ensured it would also land on him. Which is why he had his rain coat on. Mattie wanted to make it feel like it was raining. There were many Mattie antics that took place on our deck. 

Quote of the day: What? You're having a bad day? Think of those who didn't wake up this morning, and can no longer live this day. Patty Medina

There is a lot of truth to tonight's quote. No matter how bad you think your day has been, it truly isn't that bad when you put it into context. The context of people who are ill or dying. That withstanding, today wasn't the best of days. 

They always say things happen in threes. Well my first incident took place bright and early this morning when I got several panic emails and phone calls from a person I do not even know. This individual made a $5,000 donation on our Foundation Walk website, in support of a fundraising team member. Wonderful, no? Several of my Walk planning committee members text messaged me with excitement after seeing such a donation come in. But here's the catch.... the person made the donation but did not want to donate $5,000, but instead $500. 

This individual was desperate to get a hold of me because he wanted his money back ASAP. He kept saying that he did not authorize us to have all this money. When I tried calling him back, I got connected to a foreign country recording. Which made me suspicious. However, within minutes he called me back and said he was visiting Peru (which explained the message in Spanish that I heard) and needed me to reimburse him this money today, because the credit card he used was the only one he brought on his travels. He then explained that our website wasn't clear, because apparently $5,000 looked like $500.

I naturally had to keep my cool, as ticking off any supporter isn't a good plan. Fortunately Peter figured out how to reimburse him and I knew how to cancel his transaction. So within thirty minutes his problem was resolved. But this is how I started my day, it felt like putting out a fire.  

The second thing was we found out we were denied a grant we applied for! The rejection letter was hysterical, specifically because the grant making organization invited us to their fundraiser in October and suggested we help them raise revenue and volunteer at their event, to enable them to give out even more grants in 2019! Literally that whole paragraph in the rejection letter made me laugh out loud. Mainly because I am trying to raise money for my non-profit and I am turning to them for help with funding a new initiative we would like to provide. Asking me to help them raise money seems counter intuitive. 

The last and final issue had to do with one of our Walk vendors, which I am not going into detail about here. Needless to say, it was one thing after the other today, and moments like these it would be very easy to say... I have had enough and walk away. Yet here I am still plugging away tonight. May tomorrow be a better day. 

April 29, 2018

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2008. Mattie was in kindergarten and I had the opportunity to visit his class that particular day. What Mattie was showing me was his "writer's workshop" creation. Mattie was NOT a fan of this creative writing component of his class. I am not certain why, since Mattie was creative. I think Mattie did not have confidence in his ability to write letters, words, or read. Which I know with more support he would have grasped. What is harder to teach is creativity. This came naturally to him and enabled him to tell a good story.  

Quote of the day: Courage is not having the strength to go on; it is going on when you don’t have the strength. ~ Theodore Roosevelt

Walk plans continued today! I snapped a few photos so you get the drift of how the Walk can take over our home! Indie, our cat, took to Sunny's bed today. That's a new one for her!

In these bins are hundreds of colorful plastic cups. Cups that are used to denote a completed lap by participants of our Walk. The participants then push the cup through our challenge wall at our event.  

This is what the cups look like! Each color represents a Walk team. 
Our challenge wall... in which cups get pushed through! Each cup represents an entire lap completed. 

Meanwhile in these boxes are some of our Foundation posters that we display at the Walk. At this point we have hundreds of posters, and of course do not feature every single one of them each year. 

Fortunately Peter took these boxes out of storage this week, so we can assess what we will use at the Walk and what we still need to create. 
Mattie's room! There are stacks of things all around the periphery of the room that relate to the Walk! Soon I will be delivering these raffle items to my friend Carolyn (our Raffle Chair), and as these items disappear, it will room for others.