Mattie’s Writing

Mattie began creating poetry, short stories, and essays when he was 3 years old. Initially, his expressions explored his grief following the death of his brother, Jamie. As Mattie grew older, his writings reflected his evolving understanding and views of our world, and our need for hope and peace.

During kindergarten, his first book (a hand-bound collection of Heartsongs poetry) earned first prize in a county-wide book festival. Subsequent books each year also earned top prize in this contest.  In 1999, he was awarded the Melinda A. Lawrence Inspirational Book Award by Children’s Hospice International for his unpublished materials, and in 2000, a special collection of his work was accepted into the Library of Congress.
Mattie created seven NY Times Bestselling books. Five of his Heartsongs poetry books were published before his death, each of them reaching the NY Times Bestseller list. His second book,  Journey Through Heartsongs was the #1 NY Times Bestselling Book for many weeks, and in the Top Ten list for the year.

Two more books were published posthumously — his final collection of poetry, and a collection of peace essays and e-mail correspondence with his friend and mentor, Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. Both books became NY Times Bestsellers, and the collection of peace essays was awarded the IPPY Gold Medal for Peacemaker Book of the Year.

Mattie’s books include forewords or introductions contributed by Maya Angelou, Jann Carl, Jimmy Carter, Christopher Cross, Chris Cuomo, Larry King, Jerry Lewis, Bernie Siegel, Oprah Winfrey, and Gary Zukav.

Mattie’s Advocacy

From the age of 6, Mattie gave inspirational speeches to a variety of audiences, ranging from school children to business leaders and politicians, and from medical professionals to educators and parenting or spiritual groups. He spoke about spirituality, disability, education, healthcare, and hospice, anchoring his presentations in his Heartsongs and a message of hope and peace.

Mattie was a frequent guest on shows like Oprah, Larry King Live, and Good Morning America; he worked with Children’s Hospice International lobbying for improvements in guidelines for children’s health and hospice care; he supported Nile Rodgers in launching the We Are Family Foundation; and, he served as a three-term National Goodwill Ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

His role as an advocate for hope and peace and for people with disabilities was widely recognized through awards, honors, and namesake programs — including the National Kindness Child of the Year Award, the Call for Peace Native American Society Peacemaker Award, the WAFF Peacemaker Award, the Verizon Courage Award, the Adlerian Society Social Interest Award, the Pediatric Nursing Humanitarian Award, the Children’s Hope Medal of Honor, the DHHS Advocacy Award, Neuharth Free Spirit of the Year Award, a MediMedia Freddie Public Service Award, People Magazine’s “Heroes Among Us” recognition, and induction into the Kids Hall of Fame.

Mattie’s Honors

#1 NY Times Bestselling Author – Journey Through Heartsongs (Hyperion, 2002)

Top Ten NY Times Bestselling Author for the Year of 2002 – Journey Through Heartsongs (Hyperion, 2002)

7-time NY Times Bestselling Author (2001-2006 — all six volumes of  his Heartsongs poetry collections and his collection of Just Peace essays and letters all became NY Times Bestsellers

Music Billboard Top 15 Hits – Music Through Heartsongs CD with Billy Gilman (2003)

Hapkido YSL Student of the Month (numerous times 1995-1998)

First Place, Write-A-Book Festival  – countywide K-12 Contest – Poetry Division (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999)

Parade Magazine Champions Honoree (1996)

Hapkido YSL Student of the Year (1996)

MDA Goodwill Ambassador  (Local 1996-2000, State 2001-2004, National 2002-2004)

Keynote, Plenary, or invited Guest Speaker – numerous local and national conferences, universities, Capitol Hill meetings, schools, etc… (1997-2004)

My Hero – Poet Hero (first year recognized, 1997)

Several Martial Arts championships –  18 and under Black Belt division (1997-1999)

“Head Elf” Fantasy Flight – Children’s Hospice International & United Airlines (1997-2004)

First Degree Black Belt — Hapkido, Tae Kwon Do, Hapmudo (1998)

Honorary HOG — Lifetime Harley Owners Group Member (began 1998) – chapters include Fort Washington, Annapolis, and Baltimore, MD

Individual Sportsmanship Award –  International Association of Fire Fighters (1998)

Melinda A. Lawrence Book Award — Children’s Hospice International Inspirational Book Award (1999)

Wizard of Oz “Heart, Brains, Courage” Award — Border’s Books (1999)

Hapkido YSL Competitor of the Year (1999)

AMF Bowling Awards –  placed in several categories/ MDA Bowling Team (1999-2002)

On Being a Champion Award  – namesake / Children’s Hospice International (began 2000)

U.S. Library of Congress – Heartsongs Compilation Book entered into the Children’s Literature Anthology section (2000)

MDA Silver Circle of Friends Advocacy Award (2000)

Opening Pitch – Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers, Bowie Baysox (2001-2003)

Children’s Hospice International Goodwill Ambassador – (2001-2004)

National Kindness Child of the Year Award  – Act of Kindness Association (2001)

Most Holy Rosary Parish Representative, Installation of the new Cardinal – Washington, DC Archdiocese (2001)

Soul Story – Guest Author for Gary Zukav (2001)

First Lady (Laura Bush) Holiday Youth/Patient Escort –  Children’s National Medical Center (2001)

Children’s Hope Medal of Honor (2002) – Presented by Sen. Barbara Mikulski on behalf of “Lucky Penny” organization

Emmy Award for Primetime Thursday (2002) – “The Magic of Mattie” (2001) by Chris Cuomo

Social Interest Award– North American Adlerian Society (2002)

Youth Festival Poet Laureate – Oregon World of Poetry PICC-Fest (2002)

On Being a Champion Award – Children’s Hospice International (2002)

Kennedy Center, Distinguished Speaker Series Introduction Honor – Washington Society of Executives Center for Association Leadership (2002) (Introduced President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter for a televised speech)

Peacemaker Award – We Are Family Foundation (2002)

Caring Award — Young Adult Honoree, Caring Award Hall of Fame – Caring Institute (2002)

Pediatric Nursing Humanitarian Award (2002)

Kids Hall of Fame, Inductee (2002)

Verizon Business Solutions Group Courage Award (2002)

Freddie Public Service Award –  MediMedia International Health/Medical (2002)

Neuharth Free Spirit Honoree (2002)

Noah’s Children (Hospice) Appreciation Award (2002)

People Magazine “Heroes Among Us” Award (2002)

Chuck Yeager Honorary Young Eagle Recognition (2002)

Indy Racing League Parade – Honorary Float participant (2002)

Parade Magazine Cover Photo/Story for MDA (2002)

Toys R Us Differently Abled Kids Guide – Cover Photo/Letter Honor (2002)

MDA Heartsongs Gala – Mattie’s “Black Tie Party” fundraiser (creator/founder of event that raised funds for MDA 2003-2013)

Heartsongs Champion Award (began 2003) – namesake/ Muscular Dystrophy Association

Heartsongs Appreciation Award (began 2003) – namesake/ Children’s National Medical Center – presented annually at the Heartsongs Luncheon

Emmy Nomination (2003) for Larry King Live – April 2002 show

Points of Light Recognition – Children’s Hospice International (2003)

Howard “Rocky” Stone Award (2003) – Archdiocese of Washington, DC Catholic Church

Disability Awareness Advocacy Award (2003) – U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (2003)

MDA Most Effective Youth Ambassador Honor (2003)

Earth Society Foundation Earth Day Award (2003)

Neuharth Free Spirit of the Year Award (2003)

Swedenberg Inform of L.A. Angel Festival Award (2003)

Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving — Intergenerational Caregiving Expert Panel – Panel Co-Chair with Rosalynn Carter (2003)

Larry King Cardiac Foundation Gala – Honorary Chair (2003, 2004)

NOTEto view post-humous honors and awards, please visit Mattie’s Legacy page.

Mattie’s contributions to books published by others include:

Boys Who Rocked the World: From King Tut to Tiger Woods  (Beyond Words, 2001)

So, You Wanna be a Writer? (Beyond Words, 2001)

I Love You, Mom (Editor, Kelly Ripka, Hyperion, 2003)

Open My Eyes, Open My Soul (Editor, Yolanda King, 2004)

Mattie J.T. Stepanek, Laura Bauer, Jeni Stepanek, and the Stepanek’s service dog Micah during the 2003 RCI Intergenerational Caregiving Expert Panel Meeting.