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Mattie Stepanek[Program 58]
Mattie Stepanek
  • How does an eleven year old boy with a rare form of muscular dystrophy, who is connected to a breathing apparatus, and confined to a wheel chair, manage to write two New York Times' bestellers?
  • How can a positive attitude and life philosophy help one to overcome illness and despair?
  • What wisdom does Mattie Stepanek have to teach us about life, gratitude, and making peace in the world?
  • What is a person's "Heartsong" and how can a one hear it?

"We all have life storms. Times in our lives that are extremely sad, scary, angry. And instead of just suffering through them, and then afterwards just sitting, crying and waiting to be wiped out by the next one, we should celebrate together that we got through. And when the next one comes along, work through and pull through and celebrate again."

--Mattie Stepanek on his philosophy of "Playing after every storm."

You'll meet Mattie Stepanek, the best-selling 11 year old poet, recorded prior to his death in 2004 from complications of muscular dystrophy. Hear his moving story and learn about his powerful philosophy of "Heartsongs." One of the remarkable things about Mattie was how, against significant challenges, he maintained a truly inspiring positive attitude. In this profile, Mattie breathes through a tracheotomy tube that is connected to an oxygen supply, and even though he had spent much of his young life in hospitals, he outlived many dire prognoses the doctors had given him.

Mattie's strength comes from his special view of humanity, his sense of humor and spirit, and his philosophy of "Heartsongs." A "Heartsong" is your inner voice and true feelings spoken by your heart. He sees his role as someone who helps other people hear their "Heartsongs," and through his poetry and public speaking engagements he does just that. It is clear that Mattie developed some of his worldview from his mother, Jeni, whom we also visit with in this episode. She is also wheelchair-bound, wrestling with the same disease as Mattie's; in fact she lost three other children to it.

Our program concludes with excerpts of powerful eulogies given for Mattie by former President Jimmy Carter and Oprah Winfrey, both of whom were smitten by the gentle message of peace from this remarkable soul, who was wiser than his years and whose life was cut too short.

Total time: 29 minutes
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