Mattie Stepanek
From the moment she heard his story, Oprah has wanted to meet 11-year-old Mattie Stepanek. Mattie was born with a rare form of muscular dystrophy. To get around, he needs a wheelchair and oxygen. Yet Mattie has never let his disease keep him down: He earned a junior black belt in martial arts while tethered to an oxygen tank; and despite being just 11 years old, he home-schools at the level of a high school junior.

But Mattie's real gift is for poetry. "I write to express my thoughts, my feelings," he says. "I want people to think."

FROM: How Does That Feel?
Published on October 19, 2001

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