In 2019, after being inspired by Len Forkas, the founder of Hopecam, eight-year-old Matteo decided he wanted to follow his passion for running but do it with a purpose - to help kids with cancer. He set out to run 100 miles and raise $5,000. Modest goals with no sense of limits.
Ahead of his 4th race of what would become 35 races in 15 states, Matteo prepared to run in Wilmington, Delaware. The conversation he had with his father, Brandon, went like this:
Matteo: Daddy, do you know who is from Wilmington?
Brandon: No, I don't know anyone from Wilmington, I don't think.
Matteo: Oh, Joe Biden is from there, right?
Brandon: Yes, I mean I don't know anyone personally.
Matteo: When he was Vice President, he did that whole "Moonshot" thing to help people with cancer.
Brandon: That's right. You remember that from the State of the Union speech?
Matteo: Yeah, let's see what he's doing Saturday and invite him to the race.
Brandon (smirking silently about his son's naivety): Well, I don't know if it's really that easy.
Matteo (dejected face): OK, never mind.
Brandon: You know what, buddy, if you want to invite him...you should do that. You never know. Don't expect anything, but it never hurts to ask. I'll help you write something. Let's do it.
With Brandon's help, Matteo wrote an email to the Biden Cancer Initiative about how he would love to have former Vice President Biden come out to watch him run and support kids with cancer. Surprisingly, a response came saying that while Mr. Biden could not make it to the race, he was inspired by Matteo's desire to help kids with cancer. Biden's staff asked for Matteo's mailing address so that the former vice president could send Matteo a letter.
Matteo responded by saying that it would be awesome to receive a letter but the kids with cancer who he's supporting deserve a letter more than he does. So, if Mr. Biden has time to write a letter, please write it to Jonah or Nate, boys battling cancer who he was soon running to support in Delaware and Pennsylvania.
Two weeks later, four letters arrived in the mail, signed by Mr. Biden - one each for Jonah from Mississippi and Nate from Pennsylvania, one for Matteo, and one for Brandon to thank him for raising Matteo to be such a caring kid. Below is the letter to Matteo.
In July of the same year Matteo remembered the "moonshot" that Mr. Biden had helped lead and used that word (on the 50th anniversary of the moon landing) when he hand wrote a note to cancer survivor and MLB all-star of the Chicago Cubs, Anthony Rizzo. Matteo asked Rizzo to hit a "moonshot" for kids with cancer. Rizzo hit a game-winning grand slam.
Furthermore, ever since receiving President Biden's letter, Matteo has started every race by running as fast as he can before slowing to his pace. He calls his sprint start the "moonshot" and says it's to show adults that kids can lead the pack.
Nate and Jonah are now healthy and putting cancer behind them. And that's what the "moonshot" is all about!
I was 10 years away from being able to vote. I just wanted to help kids with cancer. So, I invited Mr. Biden to a race I was running in Wilmington. He sent letters to Jonah, Nate, and me. Every morning I put my feet on the floor knowing two young heroes were honored by our President because I believed in my voice.