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Rockville News

Posted on: July 8, 2019

Peace Day Party to Celebrate Teen Activist's Legacy

Rockville, Maryland, July 8 — Rockville will celebrate the life, legacy and birthday of late teen poet and peace activist Mattie J.T. Stepanek with Peace Day, from 1-8 p.m. Saturday, July 13.

The free event will be held on King Farm Village Green, 800 Pleasant Drive, and will feature cake, a moon bounce, community conversation, face painting, arts and crafts and entertainment. Live performances include The Black & Tan Band, David Roth and The Zamdancers.

The outdoor street fair will be held from 1-5 p.m., rain or shine. A happy-hour dance party will continue from 5-8 p.m. inside Botanero Restaurant.

The Mayor and Council were scheduled at their Monday, July 8 meeting to declare July 13, by proclamation, Mattie J.T. Stepanek Peace Day in Rockville.

For more information, visit the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation online at or email


  • 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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