I first met my friend Mattie Stepanek
nearly four years ago, when he thought he was a goner—he had a rare form of muscular dystrophy that had already claimed the lives of his three siblings and was threatening his. Doctors said that if a sore on the back of his head didn't heal, he'd have to undergo an operation he might not survive. When I asked Mattie what he wanted for Christmas that year, he said, "If it's not too much trouble, pray for me." I and thousands of others did—and 30 days later, Mattie's healing could be explained only as a medical miracle.
Watch a tribue to Mattie
In March 2004, Mattie's condition again worsened, and he never recovered; 13 years after doctors at his birth had predicted Mattie wouldn't make it even a day, he used his light to inspire the millions who saw him on my show. When you lose a loved one, you gain an angel. That is how all those who knew this brave, ebullient and wise boy will remember him.