Sarasota, Florida just found its newest celebrity in the form of Donald Gould, a 51-year-old homeless man and Marine veteran. Gould caught the attention of many passerby when he sat at one of the city’s recently installed public pianos and began playing songs so beautiful, people stopped in their tracks. Aurore Henry was among the awestruck bystanders; she started filming Gould playing “Come Sail Away” by Styx, and then later uploaded the video to her Facebook page. Since being uploaded on June 29, Henry’s video has gone viral, accumulating over 4 million views. Many people have reached out to connect with Gould and a GoFundMe page has been started on his behalf.
According to Sarasota news agency WWSB, Gould is a former Marine who got his start in music by playing the clarinet. After his service, Gould decided that he wanted to be a music teacher so he started studying music at Spring Arbor University in his home state of Michigan. However, because of financial hardship, Gould was forced to drop out of his program three semesters shy of graduating. It was in 1998 that things started taking a turn for the worse. Gould’s wife passed away, and he fell into a downward spiral propelled by substance abuse. His years of substance abuse and being without work landed him as one of the homeless along Sarasota’s Main Street.
Thanks to the popularity of this video, Gould is being offered a chance to play the piano at a local bar/club. His sudden spotlight is moving the hearts of millions and challenging perspectives on homelessness. Watch the incredible video and share your thoughts with us in the comments!