This is Matthew. Look at his beautiful face. He melts my heart!! I met him at the Boyce Farmer's Market last October when he was actively raising money for his 10 year old friend MacKenzie who was in the process of fighting off her third round of cancer. Matthew and MacKenzie met in Kindergarten and became good friends right from the start.
When MacKenzie became ill and had to travel to Halifax for treatment, he saw how much of a financial toll it was taking on her family. She missed a lot of schooling during her illness....missed alot of the fun. So, Matthew took it upon himself to help them as best as he could. His goal? 56,000 dollars....one dollar for every inch between MacKenzie's house and their school. He would collect loonies (Canadian dollar coins) because they were approx. 1 inch in diameter. He placed large mason jars in convenience stores and solicited the market goers and shoppers every chance he could.
A few anonymous people donated larger amounts of money. An elementary school class in Oromocto sent letters taped with loonies, one for each child. Most of the donations were 1 loonie at a time. The community and the local media celebrated the hope and loving kindness of this little boy. I know that every time I thought of him or saw him outside the market with his big mason jar my heart melted into his determination and unwavering belief that MacKenzie would beat the ugly disease.....
Every night, he prayed with his family for his friend to heal. They openly discussed the big life and death issues together. The talked about cancer and the chances of MacKenzie surviving it. Matthew knew the doctors were dumbfounded that MacKenzie had survived this long. And yet, he stayed true to his beliefs that she would overcome the odds.
Over the course of his compassonate fundraising, Matthew gathered 14,000 loonies! With the money, he was able to lighten the financial load of MacKenzie's family as well as shower his kindred spirit friend with gifts to help her experience some fun. His actions also provided her an affirming love which no doubt helped her in her battle to beat the odds. This act of love and kindness brought two families together in a place where courage and fear, where reality and escape from it all meet. This beautiful youthful soul created this.... Matthew traded in his childhood innocence for harsh light awareness to take the initiative to DO something. It was the trading in of innocence they both understood at a level most of us never experience.
Their story was covered regularly through the media and I would see Matthew out and about at the Market on Saturdays collecting his loonies. A recent story published a week or so ago alluded to the fact that MacKenzie was struggling, but the picture posted of the two of them sitting side by side simply illuminated in hope that anyone who saw it, would remain optimistic for a miracle. Strength in their bond.......bravery shared.
On Thursday, Matthew and his Mom visited MacKenzie in the hospital. According to today's newspaper, she was unconcious throughout the visit. But as Matthew was leaving MacKenzie opened her eyes and waved at her kindred friend for the last time. She died yesterday surrounded by her family. May beautiful MacKenzie rest in comforting peace. And may Matthew feel her presence every day as a loving guardian angel.
ps. I want this wonderful young boy recognized by our city. I want his efforts to be applauded with tears and respect. And I want this little girl who fought with such courage to be remembered as a spark we can all learn from. I plan to send the Mayor of Fredericton an email to request that he consider recognizing this friendship, and acknowledging Matthew's gracious heart.