Few guests have touched so many people so profoundly as Mattie Stepanek. Though he had a rare form of muscular dystrophy that had already claimed the lives of his three siblings and was threatening his, Mattie's positive spirit was unfaltering.
Mattie, who started writing poetry at age 3, was one of Oprah's dearest friends. He taught her to always "play after every storm" and touched millions of lives with his courage and wisdom. He expressed his message of peace and understanding in a collection of poems called Heartsongs.
A "heartsong," he explained, "was the song in my heart. It was the message in my heart. A heartsong doesn't have to be a song in your heart even talking about love and peace. It can just be your message. It can be your feelings."
In March 2004, Mattie's condition again worsened, and he never recovered. Mattie lost his battle with muscular dystrophy at just 13 years old but his positive message lives on and continues to inspire millions.