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

November 9, 2019

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Tonight's picture was taken on November 10, 2007. We took Mattie to the Veteran's Day parade in Washington, DC. Getting to the parade was super easy for us, as we could walk from our home to the parade route. Mattie enjoyed being a part of the event for a bit of time but then with crowds it got overwhelming. As Mattie was like me..... we both didn't like crowds.

Quote of the day: Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity. ~ Simone Weil

Tonight's quote is perfect! We were surrounded by incredibly generous people today. Some who know us and some who just learned about the Foundation. Peter and I were at the Candy Drive from 9:30am until 7pm. Actually we have been on site since the candy drive started on November 1! Throughout the day today, volunteers came in to help us process and sort through candy! 

Volunteers came in waves and we could never have accomplished what we did today without them. 

From left to right: Deana, her son Colin, my friend Junko, Ellie (Mattie's preschool friend), my friend Carolyn, Carolyn's son Gavin, and Vicki
Junko stayed until 7pm to help us. Which made a huge difference, as we were able to get much more done together. I asked Junko to stand by the boxes FILLED with bagged candy so you could see that we literally have candy over our heads. 
Boxes, bins, containers! We are surrounded by candy. It is a massive undertaking, and we have to go back tomorrow to finish bagging the rest of the candy. We have two more deliveries tomorrow too. I wish I could say it was the end of the candy drive, but next week begin the deliveries. Which is equally taxing, because we commute all around the region and lift and carry candy. 
Our friends at Take the Stage Performance Company sorted candy for us today. We enjoy our partnership together and to me this photo captures the great energy within the group. 

November 8, 2019

Friday, November 8, 2019

Friday, November 8, 2019

Tonight's picture was taken on November 30, 2007. We were visiting Peter's parents house for Thanksgiving. Mattie was outside running around with his cousins and they were taking turns jumping from a swing into a pile of leaves. Of course all of us at one time or other probably jumped into a pile of leaves. It is one of the great things about Fall, at least from a kid's standpoint. But I was always hovering around because I wanted to make sure Mattie wouldn't get hurt. Ironically, Mattie was a naturally cautious child but being cautious did not stop him from trying an activity. 

Quote of the day: Generosity brings happiness at every stage of its expression. We experience joy in forming the intention to be generous. We experience joy in the actual act of giving something. And we experience joy in remembering the fact that we have given. ~ Buddha

Peter had his hands full today. While I was at a five hour licensure board meeting, Peter was managing the candy drive ALL DAY. That may sound easy, but it is a very laborious process. It involves moving candy around (which is VERY heavy), manage continual clean up of bags and boxes, and of course assisting volunteers as they sorted candy. 

While I was in my meeting, I could see Peter text messaging me. Typically I don't respond to messages while I am running a board meeting, but today was different. I know what the candy drive is like and given the volume of donations today, I could see Peter needed help. I literally was texting messaging friends today to go help Peter. Do you see all those black bins and bags? They were filled with candy donated today alone!!!

Some of our volunteers! From left to right: Peggy (who found out about our candy drive on her neighborhood listserv), Leslie, her son Ben (a cancer survivor), Lana (one of Mattie's preschool teachers) and our friend Mary. 
Some of the action throughout the day! Candy is sorted for multiple reasons. First it helps to screen the candy that we are donating. Also sorting candy by type and bagging it, helps hospital staff restock our snack and item carts more efficiently. 
Once the candy is bagged, it then goes into bins for transportation. 
Honestly! Have you ever seen so much candy? This is just some of the candy donated from the Washington National Cathedral School! Though I ask our participating groups to sort candy, it doesn't always happen. So sorting candy in these boxes will take hours tomorrow. 
Literally candy and bags surrounded the garage today. Tonight, our entire car was filled with garage..... bags, candy wrappers, broken boxes, etc! Thankfully we have access to dumpsters at our home, because trash generated from one day of the candy drive would be impossible to fit in the average household garage bin!

When I got home from my licensure board meeting, Sunny was besides himself. He needed to be walked. So I walked him for 75 minutes, then hopped into Uber and met Peter at 5pm at the Candy Drive. I worked with him for another two hours and then we closed it down for the night. We have a VERY VERY full day ahead of us tomorrow, with more candy deliveries and a whole lot of sorting.  

November 7, 2019

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2007. That year we celebrated Thanksgiving in Boston with Peter's parents. As Mattie was our nature fellow, we went for a walk and took bread to feed the ducks.  Mattie was in his element when he was outside, regardless of temperature.

Quote of the day: It is said that you can't take it with you; I say there are two things you can take with you: the things you do for others and the things you do to others. ~ Harold Cornett, jr.

Last night all the candy we received was sorted! This is today's delivery! More bins of unsorted candy to manage. Thankfully we have a high school club, Charity through Medicine, coming in this afternoon to help. The Club's leader is a preschool friend of Mattie's! What I can attest to, is more hands involved the faster this candy sorting process goes. We are very grateful to our volunteers.

Tonight friends of Mattie Miracle are hosting a 10th anniversary fundraiser for the Foundation. This is what the invitation looked like. Hosting this event is certainly easier than planning the Annual Awareness Walk. Yet I would say having planned last year's Bourbon and Bites Bash, it is still a great deal of work, coordination, and management of things and people to pull this off successfully. Peter and I are aware of the work involved and we are grateful to have long-term supporters who believe in our mission. 

Since it will be a late night and I have a licensure board meeting bright and early on Friday morning, I decided to post tonight's blog earlier in the day. I will share more about the event tomorrow. Here is a preview of the thank you favors that will be handed out tonight!

November 6, 2019

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2007. We were walking on Roosevelt Island that weekend and Mattie came across this large greenish fruit! Back then I had no idea that it was a crinkly hedge apple. But Mattie was intrigued by it, picked it up and brought it home. Naturally we cut it open and explored the fruit, which smelled like citrus. Mattie was all about collecting things in nature and exploring his surroundings. This was one of my favorite photos I snapped of Mattie on the Island. 

Quote of the day: From the heart, it has come, to the heart, it shall go. ~ Beethoven’s inscription on his Mass

When we arrived on-site, where we hold the candy drive, we were greeted by this sight! All the white bags are from our corporate sponsor, Robert & Tyler of Washington Fine Properties. They contribute to our candy drive every year and SORT all the candy they donate. 
This is Peter's dentist office and another corporate sponsor of Mattie Miracle's. They donate candy to us every year. 
We had several large groups of volunteers helping us sort candy today! Thankfully as there was a lot to process. 
Later in the afternoon, we had Junior Girl Scout Troop 4559 helping us. They were stellar! I can't tell you how much candy they processed for us!

November 5, 2019

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Tuesday, November 5, 2019 -- Mattie died 527 weeks ago today. 

Tonight's picture was taken on November 4, 2007. Mattie was 5 years old and we went for a walk on Roosevelt Island. You will notice I was carrying a large leaf. That was an item Mattie acquired along his walk. Which was typical of Mattie, he always came home with a treasure from nature. 

Quote of the day: The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving. ~ Albert Einstein

My morning started at the Lab School in Washington, DC. I always know I can count on this school for a large supply of candy. Literally candy filled my trunk and my back seat!
Get the picture! Each year, I have the opportunity to chat with the Assistant Head of School, who is delightful! She has watched us grow and I always am amazed how up to date she is with what are doing. As she is a faithful Mattie Miracle newsletter reader!
Meanwhile last week I was worrying whether we would get candy this year! Mainly because it wasn't coming in. But today, things turned around. Now we have six large bins full of candy in need of sorting. Peter and I worked on it for a while today, and completed maybe a bin and a half. Now I get anxious for another reason..... will we be able to sort and process this candy before another big load is dumped upon us?!
We thank Privia of Arlington for participating in our Candy Drive again this year!
Girl Scout Troop 3742 came to help us sort today. I find it interesting the different sorting methods people use. The Girl Scouts sort candy completely different from us, but at the end of the day, they processed through a lot of candy and were a huge help. 

November 4, 2019

Monday, November 4, 2019

Monday, November 4, 2019

Tonight's picture was taken on November 19, 2008. Mattie was recovering from his second limb salvaging surgery. The goal was to get Mattie to exercise his lungs, which is always needed post-surgery. Mattie did not want to do the usual breathing exercises. So we made it fun! A friend gave Mattie this crazy straw that literally wrapped around my ears and lead to the eyeglasses. In typical Mattie fashion, he wasn't going to do something without me trying it first. So I put on the crazy straw glasses and demonstrated the process. As you can see Mattie was checking it out!

Quote of the day: In recent years, stressed-out urbanites have been seeking refuge in green spaces, for which the proven positive impacts on physical and mental health are often cited in arguments for more inner-city parks and accessible woodlands. The benefits of “blue space” – the sea and coastline, but also rivers, lakes, canals, waterfalls, even fountains – are less well publicized, yet the science has been consistent for at least a decade: being by water is good for body and mind. ~ Elle Hunt

Check out Brownie Troop 5614! This group of 3rd graders made sort order of loads of candy. They sorted a bunch in under an hour. The beauty of small hands and their incredible energy!

In the midst of being focused on the candy drive, my mom sent me an article entitled, Blue spaces: why time spent near water is the secret of happiness. I attached a link to the article below. 

How do you feel when you are around a body of water? I know personally there is nothing like seeing water. I am not just talking about the ocean. Truly any body of water and I would include in that man-made fountains. Which maybe why, if I get to chose where we walk Sunny, I always suggest walking by the Potomac River. Certainly we have the chaos of Washington, DC around us, but there is something mesmerizing even about the river. 

What caught my attention in the article below were the following points: 

  1. Proximity to water – especially the sea – is associated with many positive measures of physical and mental well being, from higher levels of vitamin D to better social relations.
  2. We find people who visit the coast, for example, at least twice weekly tend to experience better general and mental health,” says Dr Lewis Elliott, also of the University of Exeter and BlueHealth. “Some of our research suggests around two hours a week is probably beneficial, across many sectors of society.” Even sea views have been associated with better mental health.
  3. Three established pathways by which the presence of water is positively related to health, well being and happiness. First, there are the beneficial environmental factors typical of aquatic environments, such as less polluted air and more sunlight. Second, people who live by water tend to be more physically active – not just with water sports, but walking and cycling. Third – and this is where blue space seems to have an edge over other natural environments – water has a psychologically restorative effect. Spending time in and around aquatic environments has consistently been shown to lead to significantly higher benefits, in inducing positive mood and reducing negative mood and stress, than green space does.
  4. That rumination – focusing on negative thoughts about one’s distress – is an established factor in depression. “What we find is that spending time walking on the beach, there’s a transition towards thinking outwards towards the environment, thinking about those patterns – putting your life in perspective."

Will we get to the point in which our physicians will write out "blue” or “green” prescriptions for us? I don't know, but it definitely seems like a great plan that could have long lasting health benefits!  

Blue spaces: why time spent near water is the secret of happiness:

November 3, 2019

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Tonight's picture was taken on November 10, 2008. Which was actually two days before his first limb salvaging surgery. Mattie was in the clinic and hanging out by the art table. His art therapists helped him print out a photo of a roach! Mattie knew I hated roaches, which may have been one of the main reason he was so enamored by them. Keep in mind Mattie never saw a live roach. Yet check out this impish smile as he was showing me his print out. Priceless!

Quote of the day: Many times, people in their anxiety will say silly, inappropriate things. Often, people fall back on clich├ęs and trite comments in an attempt to comfort people in grief, many of which diminish the loss, and cause unintended pain. Some phrases to avoid: everything happens for a reason; God wouldn’t give you more than you can handle; what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger; at least they lived a good life. Dr. Alan Wolfelt

Recently my friend and colleague, Lisa, sent me an article by email entitled, "What to say when someone dies." I attached a link to the article below in case you wanted to read it for yourself. It is actually an article worth reading as the author asked grief advocates, therapists, and other experts for their advice on how to support friends and loved ones when someone dies.

Much of what was captured in the article resonated with me, especially the importance of NOT walking away. This "checking in" doesn't mean you reach out to a bereaved friend the day after the funeral. Instead the article highlights the importance of long term check ins, as for many of us grief is a forever journey. The article discusses phone calls, email messages, attending funerals, offering help, and not worrying about getting the words 100% correct. I do realize that sometimes it is easier to avoid a bereaved person because you just don't know what to say. I can't tell you how many people still turn the other way when they see me coming. Not just after Mattie died, but this continues now even a decade later. Needless to say this is painful to experience on top of the death of Mattie.  

The article did say two things that caught my attention. The first was that it encouraged readers to attend funerals to show support for those left behind. It went on to say that we will "always remember the people that do, in fact, show up." I can safely say that I remember Mattie's funeral, speaking at it, and the mass. But if you asked me to remember who came to the funeral, I can't! Unfortunately we also had a sign in book, but most people did not use it. 

The article also talks about sending something practical like a "book on grief" to those of us left behind. I can't tell you how many books I received after Mattie died. I had quite a collection and I DIDN'T like any of them! In fact, receiving these books irritated me to no end. Mainly because I wanted to know if people thought the answers to my problems could be found in a book? Were solutions going to jump off the pages to help me? I realize some people do turn to books for support, guidance, and perhaps to know that others out there feel the same way we do. I wasn't one of those people and therefore, you will never find me recommending or doling out grief books to ANYONE. Which is why I would be hesitant to recommend this as a gift, unless you really knew the recipient well.  

So what is appropriate to say to someone who is grieving? Well what I do know is there are no magic words, so sincerity is most important. Like so many articles, this article looks at grief from a more immediate/acute standpoint. Basically shortly after a person dies. But what happens to people like me months and years later? I assure you it is important to know how to talk to long term grievers, though I admit with time we do develop more coping mechanisms and also gain experience handling all sorts of comments that come our way. Yet we face new losses associated with the original loss each and every day, month, and year. That said, I don't think you are going to find a similar article on how to communicate with friends living with lifelong grief. It's not an upbeat subject or one society necessarily wants to explore. 

What to Say When Someone Dies