How It All Started
In April, 2013 Michael Franti was scheduled to perform at the Wanee festival in Florida. Before the festival, Michael was contacted by Hope Dezember via Twitter. She explained that her husband Steve is living with advanced stages of ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease, a life threatening illness which rapidly attacks the nervous system, paralyzing each body part and eventually leading to death. The Wanee Festival might be Steve's last concert, and he wished to meet Michael. Michael granted his wish.
Before the show, Michael and his partner Sara Agah ended up spending three hours backstage with Hope and Steve. Steve was confined to an electric wheelchair and had very little movement in his limbs and face. Through concerted whispers, he shared the story of how he asked Hope to marry him after being diagnosed with ALS. Knowing his condition would lead to death within a few years, Hope immediately responded yes to his proposal. The two were married and have journeyed together through Steve's deteriorating condition.
Sara and Michael were moved to tears by the love they share and inspired by the depth of courage and grace apparent in their smiles and passion to fight ALS. Michael invited Steve and Hope to join him on stage during his show. 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.
Top: Sara, Hope Bottom: Michael, Steve
“As a musician who came very close to dying when my appendix ruptured on tour, and Sara working as an E.R. nurse who sees people in life threatening situations every shift, we’ve both witnessed how moments of joy can bring inspiration and hope to people at times of greatest need. Following this pivotal event shared with the Dezembers’, we were inspired to create “Do It For the Love” to bring the joyous gift of attending a live concert to people with life-threatening illnesses,” explains Michael.
Together with their loved ones, people facing these life challenges can meet the musical artists that have inspired and touched their lives as they laugh, dance, sing and simply celebrate life.
Do It For The Love is a 501c3 non-profit. Donations are tax deductible.