Do You Have Tissues? ‘Cause You’re Going to Need Them!
Have you heard of Donald Gould? No? What about his popular nickname, Boone? Still no?
Well, you may have seen him in a recent viral video floating around the internet.
Gould, fifty-one years old, is a former drug addict who, unfortunately, is still homeless. He’s been making a living on the Gulf Coast of Florida by playing the piano for tips.
Well, as of recently, he may be doing much more than making a living! In fact, Gould told a local paper, “I was thinking I could just put my hat on the piano and make a couple dollars and get tips…I didn’t expect it to jump out to this” (WWSB-TV).
Donald Gould’s heart wrenching story is told in detail below, but first for some good news! After gaining internet fame for his piano playing – including covers of Styx, Billy Joel, and Bach songs – he’s been offered a job at a local bar.
While one job is a far cry from stability, it’s this type of compassion that will get him off the streets. What a blessing.
From Talented Child to Homeless Addict
Daniel Gould’s story begins when he picked up a clarinet as a child. He instantly fell in love with the instrument and continued playing throughout his life. After joining the Marines Corps, he began to play clarinet in their official band.
Eventually, Gould returned home to Michigan. He enrolled in a Christian liberal arts college called Spring Arbor. His aspiration? To teach music to children.
With tuition ever increasing, he decided to instead focus on starting a family and working. He married, had children, and things were wonderful until one day in 1998.
His wife died and, overcome with grief, Gould descended into addiction. He eventually lost his three-year-old son and ended up homeless. He bounced around the United States and found his way to Sarasota, Florida.
That’s where Gould lives today. Although he’s put his substance abuse behind him, he’s still stuck in the hand-to-mouth cycle of extreme poverty. His situation isn’t that unique either. According to a 2013 report, it’s estimated that over 600,000 are stuck in the same vicious cycle.
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Bringing Smiles to the World
Today, Gould is still riding the wave of viral video fame. He’s looking forward to getting a job playing piano or performing and teaching some other type of music. This last part, teaching, is what’s brought him the most joy.
Remember, Gould was studying to be a music teacher before he started his family. Today, that simple joy is what keeps him going. In fact, children have been coming up to Gould as he’s playing recently and asking him if they can play.
Gould will move over, let them sit down, and help them play something simple. When asked about his teaching spirit, he responded,
“I play the ‘Heart and Soul’ bass, I say ‘just hit the white keys, you can’t screw up’… It doesn’t matter how they play, if they play crappy or good, I always clap for them…I’m a nurturer, I’m a teacher” (People Magazine).