Stepanek, Matthew (Joseph Thaddeus) 1990-2004
STEPANEK, Matthew (Joseph Thaddeus) 1990-2004
See index for CA sketch: Born July 17, 1990, in Washington, DC; died of complications from dysautonomic mitochondrial myopathy June 22, 2004, in Washington, DC. Author. Stepanek, who suffered from a rare form of muscular dystrophy, became a bestselling poet and celebrity advocate for others who suffered from this disease. Inheriting the genetic illness from his mother, who had already lost three children to the disease, Stepanek became an inspiration to people all over the world for his remarkably upbeat personality and generous spirit. He started writing poetry at the age of three, after his brother Jamie died, and his first collection, Heartsongs, was published in 2001. His verses soon became known to millions of Americans after Stepanek appeared on such television shows as Oprah, Good Morning America, and Larry King Live. Stepanek's verses not only gave hope to other sufferers of muscular dystrophy, but also to those ailing from other serious illnesses, such as AIDS, or, indeed, trying to endure other personal hardships. The young poet took advantage of his popularity by serving as an advocate for the sick, making appearances on shows such as the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon, and he also frequently spoke out for world peace. He wrote about his views on the My Heroes Web site, as well as on his own Web page. After Heartsongs, Stepanek published four more collections, including Journey through Heartsongs, Hope through Heartsongs, Celebrate through Heartsongs, and Loving through Heartsongs, published from 2001 through 2003. Several of his poems were turned into lyrics performed by Billy Graham for a CD-ROM titled Music through Heartsongs (2003).
OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:
Chicago Tribune, June 23, 2004, section 1, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times, June 24, 2004, p. B13.
New York Times, June 23, 2004, p. A22.
Washington Post, June 23, 2004, pp. B1, B6.
Mattie Stepanek's Personal Web site,http://www.mattieonline.com (June 23, 2004).