Mattie Stepanek, a Messenger

There once was a boy named Mattie J.T. Stepanek. He was special, he was a messenger.

Mattie was born in 1990 with a rare form of muscular dystrophy. When he was two, he watched as his brother, Jaime, die of a condition that would also someday take his life.

At 5, to cope with his condition, he began writing poems he called heartsongs.

“When I take God’s message and combine it with my own,” he explained, “That’s my reason for being- my heartsong”

At the age of 6 Mattie stood in from of a crowd of thousands to share his life’s philosophy: “Remember to play after every storm”. It was the beginning of his busy speaking career.

When he was 10 Mattie published his first of seven best selling books of poetry.

When he was 11 he got the chance to share his philosophies and heartsongs with millions on the Oprah Winfrey Show.

At the age of 12 Mattie began collaborating with his hero, Jimmy Carter, for their book, “Just Peace”. President Carter has said Mattie was the most extraordinary person he’s ever known.

When he was 13 he video taped a message for all of the living Nobel Peace Prize laureates. It was about why peace matters, reminding people to, “Think gently, speak gently, and live gently, the whole world is touched gently by the essence of your existence.”

A few weeks before his 14th birthday Mattie was admitted to the hospital as his body began to give way to his condition. “Mom, do not lie in the ashes of my life,” he said, “Take my message forth-ward. Make it part of your own message. I will live through the message. I will be with you.”

Five years after Matties death his mother wrote “Messanger”, Matties life story which includes poems, journal entries, essays, and photographs. Mattie once said, “When people hear my name after I am gone, I hope they smile and say, ‘Oh yes, Mattie- he was a poet, a peacemaker, and a philosopher, who played.’”

“Messenger” reflects that wish, inspiring us to invite peace, love, and wisdom into our lives- and to always play after every storm.

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