When 51-year-old Donald Gould sat down for an impromptu piano solo on a Sarasota street in late June, he probably had no idea that video of his melodic cover of Styx's Come Sail Away would strike a chord with so many people. After local ABC affiliate WWSB-TV aired footage of his performance, it racked up more than 100,000 views within 24 hours.
Amongst those moved by Donald's beautiful rendition of the song were members of the staff Michigan's Spring Arbor University (SAU), who decided to gift him with a $30,000 scholarship.
In an official statement to WWSB-TV, SAU's vice president for enrollment and marketing Malachi Crane said, "Offering him the scholarship was an easy decision for us to make because of who we are as a Christian university." He continued, "We have seen countless students and lives impacted by the transformational education we provide and know that Donald has a unique gift for music that he can use to change lives."
USA Today reports that Donald begin studying music at SAU in 1990 but didn't have the funds to continue with classes. After losing his wife in 1998, he began to struggle with substance abuse.
While a free education certainly has the potential to change Donald's life, for now he is focused on sobriety and attaining stability with the help of a life coach.
Hopefully we'll hear more beautiful music from Donald in the near future.