Rockville, Maryland, July 3 — Rockville will “Make Peace the News” when it celebrates the life, legacy and birthday of late teen poet and peace activist Mattie J.T. Stepanek, with cake, conversation, activities, crafts and entertainment from 1-7 p.m. Saturday, July 14.
The free outdoor party will be held on King Farm Village Green, 800 Pleasant Drive, and will feature a moon bounce, face painting, peace crafts and keepsakes, as well as food and fun. Guest bartenders, including Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton, will make Sunrise Sangrias and Sunset Cervezas (for adults) and Tie-Dye Peace Punch (for kids).
Outdoor activities will be held from 1-4 p.m. with indoor activities from 1-7 p.m. at Botanero Restaurant, Fontina Grille and Coffee Republic. A first-ever statewide Peace Day proclamation, issued by Gov. Larry Hogan, will be shared, along with remarks and a cake cutting, beginning at 2 p.m.
Entertainment includes Irish/Celtic music from The Black and Tan Band, and Jimmy Alexander, from Mix 107.3’s “Jack Diamond Morning Show.”
A portion of the proceeds from food and drink sales will benefit the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation.
The Mayor and Council at their Monday, July 2 meeting declared July 17 Mattie J.T. Stepanek Peace Day in Rockville with a proclamation presented to Jeni Stepanek, Mattie’s mother. Find video of the presentation at www.youtube.com/cityofrockville.
For more information, visit the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation online at
- Born Matthew Joseph Thaddeus Stepanek on July 17, 1990, Mattie J.T. Stepanek was a respected poet and award-winning peace activist by the time he died, three weeks before his 14th birthday.
- Mattie began creating and sharing Heartsongs at age of 3. He explained that Heartsongs are “gifts that reflect each person’s unique reason for being.”
- Mattie published six collections of his “Heartsongs” poetry books and one collection of “Just Peace” essays and email correspondence with former President Jimmy Carter. All seven of Mattie’s books became “New York Times” Bestsellers and touched millions of lives around the world.
- He was a frequent guest on shows such as “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “Larry King Live” and “Good Morning America.”
- In 2014, a congressional resolution was passed to declare July 17 (Mattie’s birthday) as “National Peace Day” to honor Mattie’s life and peace legacy.
- He died on June 22, 2004, due to complications of dysautonomic mitochondrial myopathy, a rare and fatal neuromuscular disease.
- In 2007, “Just Peace: A Message of Hope,” a collection of correspondence between Mattie and Carter, won the Independent Publisher Book Awards gold medal for outstanding book of the year in the peacemaker category.
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Director of Communication