Peace Sponsor Spotlight
Peace Sponsor — July 2012
Our July 2012 Peace Sponsor was initially a bit reluctant to accept the monthly Spotlight honor. The honoree is not a corporation that can offer large financial sponsorships to Mattie’s Foundation. The honoree is not a family-run business that can extend in-kind support. The honoree is not an independently wealthy individual who is able to provide news-worthy benevolent gifts. Instead, the honoree is Lola Whalen – an everyday person, who since 2005 when the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation was first created, has shared what she can, when she can, and with a spirit of joy.
“After much thought and prayer,” Lola wrote in a letter to Jeni Stepanek, “I have decided to accept this amazing honor. I came to realize that this is not about me; it’s about what you are doing with the Foundation to continue Mattie’s message of peace. If I can help with that, then I am happy to participate!”
Lola first met Mattie in 2001, when she was working as a flight nurse. “I had the opportunity to assist with flying Mattie to and from Chicago for the Oprah Winfrey Show. Within moments of talking to him, I knew Mattie was not just a great kid – but something really special! Whenever I tell anyone about Mattie (and I talk about him often) I describe him as truly an angel on earth.”
As a flight nurse and through her nursing career, Lola said she has had “the opportunity to spend time with children from all walks of life, with all different ‘abilities,’ including being a camp nurse for children with disabilities for many years every summer. But Mattie touched my heart like no other child ever has. There was just something amazing about him and I was an instant fan! Thinking about Mattie and his indestructible spirit, reminds me that we can all choose peace – within ourselves, with our families, and with everyone we encounter. I believe there are many ways to support Mattie’s message of peace, and that no matter how big or small the gesture is, when it is given from the heart, it WILL make a difference!”
Lola has been a role model for this belief. Each year, she has done ‘something’ from the heart. One year she sponsored a Gift Brick in Mattie’s Peace Garden. Another year she made a wonderful financial donation during the summer, then made another very generous donation during the December holidays.
Her gifts have varied in size and nature, and her name appears in various giving and support categories on the Foundation website. Regardless of the ‘how’ and ‘when’ the result is remarkable – Lola Whalen is one of the amazing people who is not simply inspired by Mattie’s message of hope and peace, but who also chooses to support his legacy Foundation in spreading and realizing that message through financial support.
A Mattie quote that has really inspired Lola is the one on the back of his ‘Just Peace: A Message of Hope’ book. Mattie writes:
‘If we simply, but profoundly, choose to make peace
an attitude and a habit and a reality, peace is possible.’
“It is my pleasure to support Mattie’s peace initiative,” Lola said. “I only wish I lived a little closer, so I could be more involved with all of the amazing activities the foundation does! I don’t think anyone could ever really understand the impact Mattie had on me in our brief couple of encounters. He truly was an ‘angel on earth’ and I was blessed to have met him. Thank you for this honor and recognition as a Peace Sponsor.”
Thank you, Lola,
for being a Peace Sponsor.