It's a giant pile of candy on a living room floor, but to Vicki Sardi-Brown "This is like bags of love behind me," says Sardi-Brown
In 2008 Vicki and her husband, Peter, learned their son had cancer. While Mattie was in the hospital, friends supplied them with a steady stream of snacks.
"When I look at chocolate now, it makes me smile. I loved candy before Mattie got sick, but now candy symbolizes to me love. That people went out of their way to buy me candy or something sweet because they were thinking of me that day," says Vicki Sardi-Brown. In 2009, Mattie died.
"It's a constant struggle when you lose a child to cancer. You need a direction and you need a purpose in life," says Sardi-Brown. You need something tangible and, at the moment, that something is candy. A lot of it. Hundreds of pounds in fact. It will end up on a snack cart rolling thru the halls of the pediatric cancer unit at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital. The place where Mattie died.
When you have a sick child, a lot of things are in short supply. One is time. Another is money. Everything on the cart is free.
"Families really look forward to seeing the candy, the snack cart. Their eyes glow. Their mouths are smiling because they know other people outside of the hospital are thinking of them," says Sardi-Brown. The Browns started the Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation.
The candy they've collected comes from friends and strangers. "This particular class or Brownie troop never even met Mattie, but Mattie's story is getting out there. That, to me, is really important. It keeps his memory alive and thru his memory we're helping other children," she says.
Vicki thinks Mattie would have liked having all this candy stacked up in the living room. "I think he would have been beside himself," says she says. Remembering Mattie's joy...nothing could be sweeter.