A dear friend of President and Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, Mattie J.T. Stepanek believed that although we all have life storms, there is a champion within each of us, waiting to emerge and pull us through. Mattie died on June 22, 2004, just a month before his 14th birthday, due to complications of Dysautonomic Mitochondrial Myopathy, a rare and fatal neuromuscular disease. During his brief life, Mattie created seven New York Times bestselling books and served as the National Goodwill Ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. His philosophy of “remembering to play after every storm” has brought inspiration and hope to millions worldwide. The Rosalynn Carter Institute’s (RCI) Mattie J.T. Stepanek Caregiving Scholarship honors Mattie’s memory by supporting those who care for their loved ones.
The RCI recognizes that family and friends are the true backbone of the long-term care system in the United States; these caregivers are shouldering most of the work, cost, burden and joy of caring for those they love. Saving our nation an estimated $470 billion annually, supporting them has never been more critical.
One consequence of the great instability facing the world is that America’s military has been engaged for longer than ever before, resulting in a new cadre of caregivers who need support – military caregivers. With a unique set of needs and challenges, military caregivers need support as they begin a journey they never imagined having to take.
RCI launched Operation Family Caregiver (OFC) to help the families of returning service members and veterans as they adapt to a new world full of new challenges. OFC provides free and confidential support to military caregivers, teaching problem-solving skills that help them manage today’s difficulties and lay a strong foundation so they can meet their own needs over the long term.
The 2017 Mattie J.T. Stepanek Caregiving Scholarship provides financial assistance to military caregivers who are completers of the Operation Family Caregiver program by the application deadline of August 31, 2017. These caregivers have already reached out for the help that will better equip them to support their loved ones. By sharing their stories, they will help others realize that the healthiest way to care for another is to care for themselves first. Five $2,000 scholarships will be awarded.
* There is still time to sign up for OFC and complete the 16-24 week program in order to be eligible for the scholarship.