• January 2014

Sharing the Joy of Rock: Inside the Do It For The Love Foundation

Rocker Michael Franti and ER nurse Sara Agah are the co-founders of the Do It For The Love Foundation a nonprofit, wish-granting organization bringing people to live concerts who are in advanced stages of life-threatening illnesses, as well as children with severe challenges and wounded veterans.

“We are a network of heart-first artists and promoters dedicated to rocking out and bringing joy, healing, hope, and an unforgettable experience of celebrating life,” Franti explains. “We hope you will participate in helping to bring the healing power of music to as many people as possible.”

How It All Started

In April 2013 Franti was scheduled to perform at the Wanee Festival in Florida.

A fan named Hope Dezember contacted him via Twitter shortly before the performance and explained that her husband Steve had been living with an advanced stage of ALS, Aka: Lou Gehrig’s disease, the life-threatening illness that rapidly attacks the nervous system, paralyzing each body part and eventually leading to death).

The Wanee Festival might be Steve’s last concert, she shared, and for years he had wished to meet Franti.

So Franti granted his wish.

Before the show, Franti and Agah spent three hours backstage with Hope and Steve. Although Steve was confined to an electric wheelchair and had very little movement in his limbs and face, through whispers, he shared the story of how he had asked Hope to marry him after being diagnosed with ALS. Despite knowing that his condition would lead to death within a few years, Hope immediately accepted his proposal. The two were married and have journeyed together through Steve’s deteriorating condition.

“We were so inspired by the depth of courage and grace apparent in their smiles and passion to fight ALS, that Michael invited Steve and Hope to join him on stage during his show,” Agah shares. “Although Steve was barely able to move his body, he asked Hope to lift him out of his chair. Wrapped in each other’s arms, they danced on stage in front of 20,000 fellow music fans gathered at the event. There was not a dry eye in the house.”

Agah and Franti were also moved to tears by the love they witnessed between their new friends.

And Franti could relate to the fragility of life. A few years ago, he had been on tour when his appendix ruptured and he nearly died. As an ER nurse, Agah sees people in life threatening situations on every shift she works.

“We’ve both witnessed how moments of joy can bring inspiration and hope to people at times of great need,” Agah shares. “Following the pivotal event shared with the Dezembers, we were inspired to create Do It For The Love Foundation.

Since its launch in August of 2013, there have been more than 50 Do It For The Love meet and greets all across Canada, the USA and even in Bali, Indonesia.

“Just like Steve and Hope, people from all ages, backgrounds, all fighting through their own unique challenges meet the musical artists who have inspired and touched their lives as they laugh, dance, sing, and simply celebrate life,” explains Agah. “We always work hard to help make facilitate a meet and greet for our Do It For The Love recipients and most of the time we do, although it may not always be possible with every artist.”

In fact, she says, many of our artists say that these meet-greets give them just as much as the fans do who are meeting them.

“Everyone that we have introduced the foundation to has been super excited and inspired,” Agah says. “As an artist you see how music can really effect a persons state of being in the most positive ways possible. Music helps you feel, heal, connect. So many of us use song to help us communicate our deepest feelings and emotion. We are so excited to have recently have Trevor Hall, Pat Monahan and Ethan Tucker join the Do It For The Love family as music ambassadors.”

Which concert would Agah attend if you had your wish granted?

“I’ve always wanted to see the Red Hot Chilli Peppers live and have never had the chance,” she shares. “It would be really cool to be able to help someone who has that same passion and desire get to one of their shows as a Do It For The Love recipient.”

As for the long-term goals for the Foundation, Agah, Franti and executive director Lisa Reuff want to create an opportunity for hundreds of artist to connect with thousands of fans.

“We want to do everything we can to support families and caregivers of fans who are in need by bringing public attention to diseases and challenges that they are a facing everyday. Our mission is to serve the greater good—and encourage everyone to rock out wherever they are!”

For more information: Do It For The Love Foundation

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