Making Dreams Come True

Mattie Stepanek and Jerry Lewis
Mattie Stepanek and Jerry Lewis

by Mattie J.T. Stepanek

Whether I’m awake or asleep, I love to dream.

Earlier this year, I spent many weeks in the hospital because of the neuromuscular disease that I have, called mitochondrial myopathy. Even though I was very sick and was stuck in the hospital for four months, I always had my dreams to keep me going and full of hope.

Something I dreamed about a lot was going to MDA summer camp, and this dream became a very important goal for me. I dreamed about getting well enough so I could see all of my friends again and have tons of fun at camp. I’m happy to say that dream came true.

For me, MDA summer camp is the best week of the year, and this year was awesome! I got to spend time with great friends and, as usual, we played pranks on each other and our counselors. My friends and I enjoyed activities like swimming and crafts, and I think our cabin’s skit was one of the best at the camp talent show.

Now my dreams are turning to Labor Day and the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon.

Last year, we were right in the middle of all the action at the Telethon. We got to be on the show with Jerry Lewis, meet lots of celebrities who care about MDA, and see our beautiful country on the drive to and from California. We also got a chance to see how caring and generous Americans are when they support MDA. Now that’s a dream come true!

When you watch the Telethon and call in a pledge, I hope you’ll remember that you’re helping to turn dreams into realities. Kids like me and families like mine dream about the day that doctors will tell us that our diseases can be cured. The money you donate helps pay for research for treatments and cures, which are getting closer to reality every day. That alone keeps our hopes and dreams alive.

Your Telethon donations also help send thousands of kids to MDA summer camp, a week where campers get to be “just a kid.” At camp, kids forget about their everyday challenges during the rest of the year.

Telethon donations also support a nationwide network of 230 MDA clinics, and help people with neuromuscular diseases buy wheelchairs, leg braces and communication devices.

So I hope you’ll watch the MDA Telethon on Labor Day weekend, Aug. 31–Sept. 1, and that your heart will tell you to call in a pledge. Together we can help make our dreams come true.

Mattie J. T. Stepanek, 13, of Maryland, is the 2003 National Goodwill Ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and a best-selling poet/peacemaker who has published five books of poetry. For more information about MDA, contact your local MDA office or go to Be sure to watch the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon on KTRE-TV 9 beginning at 9:00 p.m. Sunday, August 31, or watch it via MDA’s Web site.

— Adapted from the Muscular Dystrophy Association 2003 Digital Media Kit