For some reason lately I am particularly drawn to the life and writings of poet, peace advocate, and motivational speaker Mattie Stepanek. Mattie lived only 13 short years but was described by U.S. President Jimmy Carter as “the most extraordinary person whom I have ever known”.
Born in 1990, Mattie suffered from dysautonomic mitochondrial myopathy, a rare form of muscular dystrophy. In his short life he published six best-selling books of poetry and a best-selling collection of peace essays, and he was named by Oprah Winfrey as one of the memorable guests in the 25-year history of her television show.
After Mattie’s death in 2004, the Mattie J. T. Stepanek Peace Park was dedicated in Rockville, Maryland, and the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation was established as a non-profit organization to continue Mattie’s work for peace. According to the foundation’s website, “The mission of the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation is to continue spreading Mattie’s message of hope and peace by providing access to the message, promoting understanding of the message, and motivating people to action in sharing the message. Mattie’s Foundation offers educational and recreational programs, activities, and resources that support an understanding of peace for individuals and for our world, and that encourage peacemaking as a deliberate choice.”
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