His battle with a rare form of muscular dystrophy, which claimed the lives of his three siblings and was threatening his own life, only seemed to make his spirit stronger. He used his incredible gift of insight to write poetry he called "Heartsongs," extending hope to people of all ages.
Mattie hadn't yet reached his 14th birthday when he passed away on June 22, 2004, but he made an immeasurable impact on the world in his lifetime. "From the moment I met Mattie Stepanek, I knew it was my privilege that this courageous little boy had drifted into my life," Oprah says.
Watch a tribute to our friend Mattie.
Statue by JIMILU Mason of Alexandria, Virginia
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