Alex Rosario-Mattei with his favorite musician, Lee Brice. Photo courtesy of the author
A month or so ago, I found myself in the midst of a jumping up and down, singing, dancing, hugging, laughing, bonding crowd of music and life lovers. The reason for our shared shenanigans was a 6'6'' tall, dreads down to here Pied Piper named Michael Franti. I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Michael many years ago and when I heard he was coming to Philly, I knew I had to be there. His music and his very presence have a life-altering impact and for weeks after his Stay Human tour that brought him all around the country, the fan website was abuzz with feedback about the experiences we had. I am still reverberating from my time there.
Michael is not just a talented musician, but along with his wife, Sara Agah Franti, is a philanthropist. One of their projects is called Do It For the Love, which is a non-profit wish-granting organization that brings people living with life-threatening illnesses, children with severe challenges and wounded veterans to live concerts.
The catalyst for this organization was the story of Steve and Hope Dezember. He is a young man diagnosed with ALS who wed his sweetheart. One of his passions is music and they found themselves on stage with Michael. Even in his debilitated state, he was able to stand briefly, with Hope's assistance and dance a bit. I cried when I first saw it.
Since then, Do It For the Love has granted wishes for music lovers worldwide.
I was curious to know more about the organization.
Why is music so healing?
Music can take you out of your current situations if only for the few minutes of a song inspiring feelings of happiness, sadness or strength allowing you to truly feel and heal the soul.
What are some of the most memorable stories you can relate, besides Steve and Hope's experience, since that is on the site?
We have so many memorable stories that you would not have enough space to list them all. One of our most recent stories that are truly inspiring and shows that music can help aid in the healing process is the story of 8-year-old Alex who's wish was to see Lee Brice in concert.
Wish Concert: LEE BRICE June 14th, 2019 Buffalo NY
About the Recipient
8-year-old Alex has had 26 brain surgeries for hydrocephalus. He has had a spinal fusion for instability related to Chiari malformation and 22 surgeries alone to replace shunts. He is the happiest most outgoing little boy ever.
What are the logistics involved in wish granting?
Applications and Nominations are accepted through the organization website. Once an application is received the information is vetted to determine if the request fits within the parameters of our mission. We secure 2-4 tickets to the concert of choice.
We also make every effort to secure meet and greet opportunity though this is at the discretion of the artist and their camp and can never be promised.
Do the recipients know upfront that they are about to have a magical experience or are some of them a surprise?
All recipients know upfront about their wish as they choose who they wish to see live based on the music and artist who most inspires them.
Do Michael and Sara have hands-on involvement?
Sara and Michael are very hands-on in maintaining the vision of the organization as well as being ambassadors of the mission wherever they are.