When WAFF first learned of Mattie J.T. Stepanek, an 11-year-old poet and peacemaker with muscular dystrophy and a resume that included 6 New York Times bestsellers, they were struck by his astute observations about human nature and his universal message of hope and peace. His vision of a global family perfectly aligned with WAFF's mission, and they chose him as the first We Are Family Peacemaker Award honoree because of his significant contributions toward promoting a peaceful society, including his belief that in order for there to be peace, one must have all of their basic human needs met: food, water, health, shelter, safety, education and the environment.
When Mattie died in 2004 just before his 14th birthday, his work and message had already inspired millions around the world, and was carried far and wide with the help of his mentors and public media figures including Oprah Winfrey, President Jimmy Carter, Dr. Maya Angelou and Larry King. Mattie's visionary leadership inspired WAFF's Three Dot Dash global teen initiative, recognizing and supporting Global Teen Leaders (GTLs) all over the world who are actively working on projects that promote a more peaceful society through basic needs. Just like Mattie, these GTLs have important voices waiting to be heard, and Three Dot Dash teaches GTLs how to be heard. Mattie's message continues to inspire WAFF, Three Dot Dash, GTLs and millions of global family members all over the world, expanding the circle of peace each day.