Mattie Stepanek remembered

Matrtie Stepanek

People were laying more bricks Friday at the Mattie Stepanek park in Rockville as his mother Jeni supervised. The bricks were from people Mattie had affected, including Oprah Winfrey.

The bespectacled little poet and peacemaker appeared on Oprah over the years. He had a rare form of muscular dystrophy and a rare insight beyond his age.

He died in 2004, just short of his 14th birthday.

“I felt that the greatest gift I could give my son was to simply be his mommy and answer questions and let him and Oprah have this memorable moment,” said Jeni, his mother.

It started with his paperback, an Oprah bio that the then-6-year-old Mattie bought in a thrift store with five cents he found on the sidewalk.

He read it and decided Oprah could help him spread his message.

Perfect strangers too have been touched by Mattie’s life. E-mail and letters have streamed in and some are even calling for Mattie to be canonized.

“I think he's an angel for sure,” said Jennifer Caugherty, a Mattie fan. “He should be a saint.”