Somehow, someway an entire middle school was able to raise $1,306.83 for Mattie. The amount is amazing. The day my mom told me the total, I was in shock. So many amazing people came together to make this happen. A special needs class civic project taught me more about giving then I have ever known. The thought of other special needs kids helping out Mattie is just amazing. What a beautiful lesson to be taught 😉
Jim recounts our experience:
Ms. Emison, a special needs teacher who teaches at WeightmanMiddle School, (the same school as Jessica’s mom – who is also a special needs teacher) started a civics project called “Change for Mattie”. The basic idea of the project was for the students to learn how they can and should always give back to their communities in some way, shape or form – life lessons in community service! The students began by using the brainstorming process to learn how each student’s idea should go on the board without rejecting anyone’s idea. Then they discussed the different ideas on the board to determine what would be the best idea for their civic project. Many of the students had seen pictures of Mattie after she was first born and knew about all of Mattie’s doctor appointments and therapies. So when Mattie’s name came up, the class had made up their minds to ask the rest of TEWMS to help them raise money for Mattie!
The entire student body was told that the class which raised the most money would be treated to an ice cream party where they would have the opportunity to meet Mattie. Each morning a video would play of Mattie. This video showed how hard Mattie worked to try and do what most children take for granted. The students and staff pulled through from their hearts and piggy banks to donate, showing tremendous support for her and the classroom’s project. The talk on the campus was how much they wanted to meet Mattie, they weren’t interested in the ice cream!
One sixth grade girl especially took the challenge to heart. She went home and told her mom that she was going to help raise money for her new friend Mattie who couldn’t walk. The girl had her mom bring her to a local bakery and bought cookies. She then set up a stand in front of the cafeteria before school every day and sold the cookies at a profit. The little girl raised $78.00 for Mattie all be herself!
This past Friday Jess, Mattie and I headed to the school to accept the money the students, teachers, and administrators had raised and to participate in the ice cream party. When we arrived, Jess’ mom met us at the front desk and we proceeded to sign in. We had about 20 minutes before the ice cream party started, so we went to her classroom and had the opportunity to meet the children in her class. It’s really easy to get caught up in the everyday efforts it takes to raise Mattie. Meeting these kids with other difficulties really put things in perspective and reminded me to be thankful for the capabilities Mattie does have. My heart breaks for the parents of other kids with special needs and it is important to realize that while Mattie has her own difficulties, she also has a lot of things going for her and that not all kids are as well off as she is. This thought also extends to Joba and how lucky and blessed we are that he is healthy and fully capable of doing anything he decides to do in this world. I wish everyone could have an opportunity like this and to truly gain this perspective (the world would be a better place!)
We also had the chance to go to Ms. Emison’s classroom and meet her students. All of them immediately recognized Mattie from the posters that had been hanging around the school and the kids were all very excited to meet her. It was immediately clear that these kids had personally invested in the project; you could see it on their faces as soon as they caught a glimpse of Mattie. It was also very touching knowing that these kids were all dealing with many of the same issues that Mattie has or will be dealing with.
On the way to the cafeteria we had to walk across the school courtyard where hundreds of middle school aged kids had just been let out of lunch and were getting some fresh air. As we made our way across the courtyard we could hear the voices “Hey, there’s Mattie!” and “That’s Mattie!” We were quickly surrounded by scores of kids wanting to take her picture. It was great to see how excited all of the kids were to get to see Mattie-especially knowing how much effort they had all put in to help our little girl. She was a rockstar!
Once we made our way to the cafeteria, two classes of about 25 kids each were led inside. Several teachers and school administrators were there as well. Again, the kids were excited to see Mattie and were taking her picture, commenting on how cute she is. After everyone sat down, a young girl with cerebral palsy used her walker to come over and give us an amazing gift.
The girl who presented us with the check had told her parents about the fundraiser and they had also decided to come to the party. It was interesting to hear their perspective on raising their daughter and some of the difficulties they had overcome. They told us that Mattie had a lot of the same mannerisms as their daughter and that their daughter didn’t speak or walk until she was 6 years old. Everyone says not to compare kids with CP because no two kids or their circumstances are the same, but it is difficult not to. While it was exciting to hear a similar story as ours and where they are now, it also put into perspective the long road we have ahead of us. This is part of the emotional back and forth parents of a special needs child have to deal with.
Going to the school to see all of the kids was such an amazing experience and very uplifting! With all of the money these kids raised we have decided to bring Mattie back to the ABM practitioner in New York City that we had so much success with this past summer. Thank you Ms. McCallum, Ms. Emison, all of the teachers, administrators and of course, all of the kids for your amazing efforts! We are truly blessed to have you be a part of our journey.
* We took some amazing pics of the ice cream party but for privacy reason we are not going to post them… Instead enjoy some pics from my “photo shoot” with Mattie and her BIG donation check 😉