Vail Daily column: Do It For The Love spreads joy, music
For fans around the world, musician and songwriter Michael Franti is known for his inspirational music and his generous spirit. For 20 years, we all have come to know Michael as the energetic lead singer of Michael Franti & Spearhead. Most recently, we have come to know another side of Michael … a side that embraces hope, healing and music, which describes the mission of Do It For The Love.
Franti is the co-founder of the Do It For The Love Foundation, a wish-granting nonprofit organization that brings people with life-threatening illnesses, wounded veterans and children with severe challenges to see live concerts with the artists of their choice. Franti and his partner, ER nurse Sara Agah, were inspired to start the foundation after meeting Steve and Hope Dezember in April 2013. Steve was living with the advanced stages of Lou Gehrig’s disease, and it was his wish to see Franti in concert. Franti invited the couple to a show and brought them onstage, where Hope lifted Steve out of his wheelchair and held him as they danced together in front of thousands of fans.
Franti was so moved by the couple and the experience of the concert that he and Agah decided to give that opportunity to as many people as they could. They started Do It For The Love in August 2013, and to date it has fulfilled more than 200 wishes, nearly all of which have included artist meet-and-greet experiences and VIP access.
In times of crisis for families, these experiences offer a chance to connect and bond while making some truly positive lifelong memories and reveling in the healing power of music, which Franti feels is a real phenomenon.
Michael and Sara are building an army of musicians who believe in their mission, and participating artists like Christina Perri, James Taylor, Britney Spears, Jay-Z and Beyonce, Bruno Mars, Tom Petty, Paul McCartney and others have donated their time, inspired by Franti’s efforts. Do It For The Love is based on a song from Franti’s 2013 album, “All People.”
I first met Michael at the Mile High Music Festival. It was the most recent show last summer during the Soulshine Tour at Red Rocks that I learned about Do It For The Love. I was given the opportunity to announce Michael Franti & Spearhead on stage before a sold out crowd and share my story of music and medicine. Just before the show, Sara Agah introduced me to the DIFTL grant recipients and their families backstage and that was it … I felt the magic, I saw the magic happening and realized in that moment the healing power of music.
Just before I walked out on the stage at Red Rocks, Michael gave me a hug and said, “It’s easy. Just speak from your heart and you will be amazing.”
Standing before 16,000-plus fans chanting “Do It For The Love” is all it took. Walking off the stage with Sara holding my hand, she said, “This is what we do.”
We provide the opportunity for healing to take place, for families to bond, care providers to get a welcomed break and for lifelong memories to be made — all through the experience of live music.
“Through the healing power of music, our goal is to inspire joy, hope and lasting celebratory memories in the face of severe illness or trauma,” Agah said.
As a survivor of stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I know the healing powers of music.
It inspires us, it lifts us up, it makes us dance. It heals us and gives us all a better quality of life. It is truly an honor for me to be hosting this fundraising event in Vail to bring awareness to Do It For The Love Foundation and help them raise funds and make a difference. The money we raise this weekend will also help us honor several local families who need a little joy and a whole lotta love.
Do It For The Love will honor the Treat family. Kathy and Sandy Treat attended one of the first fundraisers Michael hosted in Aspen and are big fans of Michael Franti. It was our hope to bring Sandy Treat to the concert this Sunday, but he passed on Jan. 8, and now it is Kathy who will be honored, surrounded by love and the gift of music. Cohen Scriver, a local 3-year-old little boy who is fighting nueroblastoma, will also be honored. He is so strong, and it is our hope that we can give him and his family a much-needed break and a little bit of fun.
As the days draw closer to the event, I have heard some incredible stories of pain, of strength and of courage — like Tania Landauer and her fight against breast cancer, and Mike Christenberry and his long courageous fight with cancer — they will join us as well. This is why I am hosting this event. This is why Michael and Sara started their foundation. You Do It For The Love.
If you know someone who could benefit from Do It For The Love, you can nominate them on the foundation’s website, http://www.doitforthelove.org.
There are just a few seats left at the Do It For The Love event this Sunday at the Four Seasons with Michael Franti. If you would like to attend, please email Margie Hamrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vail Resorts Chief Executive Officer Rob Katz and his wife, Elana Amsterdam, have announced significant contributions totaling more than $2.8 million to further strengthen emotional wellness programs in more than 10 mountain communities where Vail Resorts operates.