A wonderful tribute to a beloved former MDA National Goodwill Ambassador is now reality.
The Mattie Stepanek Park in Rockville, Md., was officially dedicated in October for over 1,000 audience members, and statues of Mattie and his service dog Micah were unveiled.
Participants at the dedication included congressmen, city officials, celebrities and hundreds of members of the MDA family, including fire fighters from three states and Canada, Harley-Davidson riders from three states, and scores of MDA volunteers and families served by the Association. National television networks covered the event, and Oprah Winfrey spoke.
Mattie died in 2004, just shy of his 14th birthday, from the effects of mitochondrial myopathy. An avowed peacemaker and New York Times best-selling poet, his youthful but profound prescriptions for settling mankind’s differences impressed both individuals and world leaders.
The park is a 26-acre recreational facility that includes a Peace Garden in Mattie’s honor.
A work crew, moving the sculpture into place on an earlier day.
The Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Honor Guard lead the opening parade.
Members of the International Association of Fire Fighters from three states attended the dedication.
Jeni marvels at her son's sculpture on installation day.
Oprah Winfrey was on hand at the dedication to help celebrate Mattie's life.
MDA National Youth Chairman Billy Gilman also participated in the dedication ceremonies.
The bronze statue was sculputed by renowned artist Jimilu Mason, shown here with Mattie's mom, Jeni.