Mattie Stepanek (1990-2004)

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Mattie Stepanek (1990-2004) 15.02.2008 04:08:35 (permalink)
  Mattie Stepanek

Mattie Stepanek (1990-2004)


Matthew "Mattie" Joseph Thaddeus Stepanek (July 17, 1990June 22, 2004) was an American poet and advocate. At the age of 3, Stepanek started to write poetry to cope with the death of his older brother. His first five books are: Heartsongs, Journey Through Heartsongs, Hope Through Heartsongs, Celebrate Through Heartsongs and Loving Through Heartsongs. All five works made the New York Times' Best Seller list. He wrote that a 'Heartsong' is a person's special gift to be shared with others... or a person's 'reason for being.'

Stepanek wanted to be remembered as "a poet, a peacemaker, and a philosopher who played." His mother fulfilled her promise to Mattie and edited one last collection of poetry, entitled Reflections of a Peacemaker, another NY Times bestseller. His final book, a collection of essays and e-mail correspondence with Former President Jimmy Carter also became a NY Times bestseller, and was awarded a Gold Medal in the IPPY Outstanding Book of the Year 'Peacemaker' category in 2007. Children's Peace Pavilion offers a membership program called Peace Champions inspired by his work.

Stepanek had a rare form of muscular dystrophy, dysautonomic mitochondrial myopathy. His sister and two brothers died from the disease, and his mother has the adult form, diagnosed only after her children were born.

In 2002, Stepanek became the Muscular Dystrophy Association National Goodwill Ambassador, due to his national high profile because of his poetry and related appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Larry King Live, and Good Morning America. Stepanek died at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, June 22, 2004.

Stepanek's funeral was held on June 28, 2004, at St. Catherine Laboure Roman Catholic Church in Wheaton, Maryland. Nearly 1,350 people attended, including Oprah Winfrey and country singer Billy Gilman. A eulogy was delivered by former President Jimmy Carter, who said, "We have known kings and queens, and we've known presidents and prime ministers, but the most extraordinary person whom I have ever known in my life is Mattie Stepanek. His life philosophy was 'Remember to play after every storm!' and his motto was: "Think Gently, Speak Gently, Live Gently.

Madison Cross, the daughter of singer-songwriter Christopher Cross, a good friend of Stepanek, wrote and recorded a song dedicated to him entitled "He Was Just Like Me" in 2005.

 External links

Retrieved from ""

Wisdom Beyond His Years

"I want people to know my life philosophy, to remember to play after every storm."
— Mattie Stepanek

A Remarkable Boy
Born with a rare form of muscular dystrophy, 11 year old Mattie Stepanek is living through a difficult storm. His mom, Jeni, also has the disease, which she didn't discover until after she had four children. Mattie's three siblings all died from the disease—but remarkably, Mattie recovered from a near-fatal sickness this past year. Though he still struggles with his illness, he is achieving great feats: earning a junior black belt in martial arts, homeschooling at the 11th grade level, and having his poetry published.

Three Wishes
Mattie has always had three wishes: to have his poems published, to meet his hero Jimmy Carter and to share his message of peace on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Now all three of his wishes have been granted. When Oprah asked Mattie why he chose those three things, he explained, "Because they were things that would last forever. Going to Disney World ends in a week. But being able to talk with Jimmy Carter, being able to have my books published, being able to talk to you here today, lasts forever."

What is a Heartsong?
Mattie has been writing poetry since he was three years old. "I write to express my thoughts and feelings," he explains. You hear the word "heartsongs" a lot in his work. "Your heartsong is your inner beauty," says Mattie. "It's the song in your heart that wants you to help make yourself a better person, and to help other people do the same. Everybody has one."


Experience Mattie's Poetry
Read and Listen


Prayer for a Journey


Making Real Sense of the Senses

On Being a Champion

When I Die (Part II)

Mattie Stepanek's Books

Journey Through Heartsongs


Celebrate Through Heartsongs

Hope Through Heartsongs

Loving Through Heartsongs
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