Matty Eappen died at the age of eight months as a result of being violently shaken by a caregiver. This foundation was established in his memory to improve the safety and welfare of children by educating the public about the dangers of shaking a child and to provide assistance to victims and their families.
The following is the victim statement Matty's mother read to impact the court after Louise Woodward was convicted of 2nd degree murder:
"On May 24, 1996, we gave birth to a healthy baby boy. We named him Matthew, gift from God. Matthew was a beautiful baby with black, silky hair and rich
chocolate eyes. He was a real butterball. He was so content. He made his needs
known, and when they were met he was happy again, a real smiling baby.
He was the object of great affection by his 2-year-old brother, Brendan, who
proudly announced, ``Brendan makes baby Matthew feel better,'' as he gave Matty a toy, blanket or a kiss.
And Brendan watched out for Matty's safety. ``I don't want you to get hurt,
Matthew, because I love you.''
And Brendan woke up in the morning and said, "Is baby Matthew awake?'' He peered into his crib and excitedly announced, "Baby Matthew's awake. Good morning baby Matthew. I love you.''
And I vividly remember having two boys, one on each leg in my lap. Brendan would say, "Let's do two boys, Mom.''
And I loved Matty's weight on my arms, his head on my shoulder, his soft breath tickling my neck and his gentle hand caressing my chin. And I loved to snuggle and get cozy with my two boys.
In December of '96 I wrote to Matthew on a card that showed a mom and her kids on a sunny day in the Boston Garden near the duckling parade. Matthew was 5 months old, and I wrote, "You are really a joy, never fussy. Always sweet and easy to comfort. You could tell your personality would be laid back. You are confident your needs will be met.''
I wrote "how loving and protecting Brendan is, how Dad adores you and how Matty laughs a great laugh. Your wonderful calm spirit is one that melts my heart. I want you to know, Matthew, how special you are to us, even at this young age."
At Christmas I gave Matthew a book called "Brothers and Sisters'' and inscribed it with: "You have added so much joy to our family. Dad and I cannot get enough of your smiles and giggles. You are so amusing to each other, we can feel your love as brothers is strong already. We are so lucky and so proud of you. You are my sunshine, Matthew.''