I was stunned by the death of Mattie Stepanek. Mattie was so upbeat and positive for the situation he was in. He was full of energy and had the gift to inspire others.
Mattie had a genetic disease that impaired his breathing, blood pressure, and digestion. The disease, called mitochondrial myopathy, is a form of muscular dystrophy.
He started writing poetry at the age of 3, after the death of his brother Jamie. Mattie wrote five books: Heartsongs, Journey Through Heartsongs, Hope Through Heartsongs, Celebrate Through Heartsongs, and Loving Through Heartsongs. Mattie said everyone has a heartsong. It is our inner beauty, our message, the song in our heart.
I have met political leaders (Bill Clinton, Walter Mondale, Linda Furney). I have met entertainers (Ann Margret, Johnny Rivers, Doug McClure). I have met football greats (Otto Graham, Sam Huff, John Unitas). I have met baseball greats (Mickey Mantle, Al Kaline, Stan Musial). I would have traded them all to meet Mattie Stepanek.
More than 1,300 people attended his funeral. Oprah Winfrey spoke briefly. Former President Jimmy Carter delivered the eulogy.
Mr. Carter said: "I have known kings and queens, presidents and prime ministers, but the most extraordinary person I have ever known in my life was Mattie Stepanek."
Now, when I am feeling down or having a bad day, I think about that young man in a wheelchair, hooked to a feeding tube and a ventilator, needing blood transfusions to stay alive. He promoted world peace, he was inspiring and positive, and he was a real role model.
He once said a champion is a winner. A hero is someone who never gives up.
Mattie was 13 at the time of his death. Mattie left us too soon, but his flame will burn forever.
I am writing to recognize one of our community's most precious assets - the Dana Corp. Recently, the American Red Cross had the privilege of holding our annual meeting at Dana's world headquarters on Dorr Street. Because our full-time duties are to serve the community, an annual meeting is required to inform the public (our stakeholders) of our performance.
Dana representatives proved to be the perfect hosts. They made our guests feel welcome on their exquisite premises, going above and beyond to ensure the positive information we conveyed at this event went flawlessly. Their graciousness allowed us to hold our meeting in an extraordinary venue, and we are grateful for their generosity.
One cannot help but feel a sense of awe and beauty while driving by the Dana headquarters.
And, as we learned, what lies behind the corporate image is even more impressive - the courteous, warm, and welcoming "Dana people."
The American Red Cross extends our sincere gratitude to the Dana Corp. and its employees with our best wishes for another 100 years of success and excellence.
American Red Cross
Greater Toledo Area Chapter
Let's call liberals what they are: "socialist."