A GoFundMe crowd funding campaign has kicked off gathering thousands of dollars after a video of a homeless man in Sarasota, Florida, playing the piano on the street went wildly viral, hitting over 4 million views in just a few days.
Donald Gould, 51, a former Marine who’s been homeless for nearly seven years, has charmed passers-by in downtown Sarasota with his piano renditions of popular songs.
A recently-posted video of Donald playing ‘Come Sail Away’ by Styx has made him a bona fide internet star, gathering over 4 million hits on Facebook and over 2 million views on YouTube in just a few days.
He tragically lost his wife and is now in search of his 18-year-old son. He says he hopes that his son sees the viral video and finds him.
Known around town as ‘Boone’, he and his best friend Paul Lenardo play the streets of Sarasota daily for tips, however they have not been able to gather enough to provide for shelter.
Blown away by Donald’s street performance, locals volunteered to help him by launching a GoFundMe campaign, which has already gathered over $ 12,000 raised by 536 people in one day.
“Donald needs a second chance at life. He is extremely musically talented and can play or teach any instrument that comes his way! Let’s help make this man’s dream come true. He’s a very sweet soul!”the initiators of the campaign urged.
In a recent interview taken by passers-by, Donald said he trained as a clarinet player and went to college to study music theory at Spring Arbor University, Michigan, but he never finished it.
“Actually I played the clarinet in the Marine Corps,” says Donald. “But then I decided to go back to college, I had to learn how to play every instrument from the piccolo all the way down to the tuba…I took ear training and I play a lot by ear, I can read music too, I can read parts just like a regular book.”
According to US media reports, ‘Boone’ sometimes even plays his rendition of Bach’s ‘Toccatain Fugue’ and Billy Joel’s ‘Piano Man’.
However, Donald needs rehab treatment for his substance abuse, as well as counseling, the GoFundMe campaigners said.
“He deserves a chance to make his dream of teaching music come true!” the campaigners believe.“We are of course making our first priority to seek counseling and rehab services for him as well. We want him to have every opportunity to get back on track to his true potential.”