11 Feb The Gift of Music – Beyond the Concert
Written by Do It For The Love Foundation Outreach Director Julie Dalrymple with submissions from Stephanie Tuma, Lisa Toledo and Wesleigh Roeca. This blog originally appeared here.
That moment when the entire audience is in sync, singing along to a familiar tune, bouncing with the rhythm and basking in the collective energy . . . it’s a moment of escape, joy at its purest and for some, it’s magic.
It brings those confined to a wheelchair to their feet, eases the pain inflicted by countless chemo treatments, and energizes even the most weary of souls. But the healing power of music goes even further, providing profound inspiration to those who have watched their loved ones struggle. For a moment, together they outrun the diagnosis and celebrate life, fully engulfed in the experience. And once the concert has ended, often that is when the most profound effects are realized.
The Do It For The Love Foundation provides the opportunity for loved ones of those dealing with severe health challenges to offer support in a unique way by submitting a nomination for a live music experience. It’s a gift that speaks more than words.
“I realized that this experience helped more than just me,” wrote Stephanie, a 23-year old living with a rare and life-threatening genetic condition. “Often times we forget that being sick is hard but watching someone helplessly be sick is hard too. This provided an opportunity for my mother to say “help me” without speaking words. She reached out to the foundation to help her do something that made her feel good. It was one of the nicest things she could have done. By nominating me she was able to show me her love.”
The power of music transcends words and, as Stephanie experienced during her wish grant, it can provide a bridge during a difficult time. “Unspoken love is something that isn't always apparent, but this whole experience spoke love in volumes.”
“During that evening, I watched all these amazing positive things unfold before my eyes with two of my favorite people and afterwards all I could think about is how much I love my mom. We danced and high-fived and hugged our way through the evening leaving all the unspoken words float around us because in spite of all the obstacles life gives us, whether big or small, there's one thing that keeps us all connected . . . music.”
Another magical moment happened just a few seats over at that same show. Sam has cerebral palsy, and uses a wheelchair for mobility. Despite his physical limitations, he’s always found great joy in listening to music and dancing. Sam’s aunt Lisa nominated him for a concert with Michael Franti and the experience was just as moving for her as it was for her nephew.
“Watching Sam smile, clap and sing was heartwarming, but the most astonishing surprise to all of us was that Sam stood on his feet the entire time Michael was playing!” said Lisa. “At one point Sam turned to me and said “I want to jump!” I, of course, burst into tears and then proceeded to aid him in bouncing around with the rest of the audience!”
Sam not only found inspiration through the music himself, but he also inspired his family to believe in miracles: “If there is such a thing as a miracles made through music, I would say that night for Sam would count as one.”
It’s heartbreaking to find out that one of our wish grant recipients has lost his or her battle. Last summer, Do It For the Love granted a wish for Wendy, a vivacious and lovely woman living with stage IV colon cancer. She beamed from the stage during her wish grant, singing on stage with Michael Franti, as her proud son and daughter looked on.
“The emotions it now evokes are so powerful, they're hard to convey, and my brother and I are beyond grateful to the Do It For The Love team for creating such a remarkable memory for us,” said Wendy’s daughter, Wesleigh. “As I held her hands, she smiled and sang and danced. She was so happy…as were we. Her cancer didn't bear weight on her, or on us. Although our mom passed away in September, this memory exists forever, and we really did feel the healing power of music.”
The memory of these moments is the most sacred effect of these wish grant experiences. That reminder of a smile and a laugh endures long after the music stops.
An unspoken bond, a miracle, a memory – there’s an unquestionable power in the live music experience. Do It For the Love provides wish grants for those going through the greatest challenges of life. And while the smile on a recipient’s face is priceless, the stories from their loved ones add a depth that is often unexpected. That’s what’s so great about a genuine live music experience – it is always full of surprises.