AP Photo/Carrie Antlfinger
If you’ve been watching “American Idol” this season, then you know Danny Gokey is the soulful singer whose wife Sophia died from post-surgical complications only four weeks before he auditioned for the show. You also know that Sophia was born with a heart defect and had previously undergone two other heart surgeries. What you might not know is that Gokey has founded a charity in her name called Sophia’s Heart Foundation (SHF).
The Foundation offers four programs:
- SHF Music and Arts Program: giving talented, underprivileged children in public schools free instruments. The program is starting in Milwaukee and Nashville, and donated instruments are gratefully accepted.
- Sophia L. Gokey Scholarship Fund: giving $1000 college scholarships to over 20 high school students who have maintained a GPA of at least 2.75 despite a significant personal challenge and who have participated in community service.
- Sophia’s Heart of Compassion: giving needy families food, shelter, and clothing. Donations of these items are gratefully accepted!
- SHF Medical Fund: helping “families with children that are in need of medical help, but don't have the financial means to get it. The needs can be as simple as a pair of glasses or wheelchairs, or as great as helping a family whose child needs a surgery they cannot afford.”
The Discovery World museum in Milwaukee donated $1 to SHF for every ticket purchased this weekend. Also, all Danny Gokey fans can purchase Danny Gear or “I love Danny Gokey” T-shirts from Café Press, and 10% of the sale will go to SHF.
The pain of losing a loved one is so intense. They say that the Divine never gives us more than we can bear, but I have never seen that guarantee in writing within any sacred text. The New Testament (First Corinthians 10:13) promises that we will be able to bear temptation, but that is different from raw, agonizing grief. I think grief can break people. War can break people. Trauma can break people. Betrayal can break people. We are each challenged to find the resilience to bounce back from life's most painful events as best as we can.
I think it is wonderful that Danny Gokey is using his talent and his new celebrity to make a difference for children in the name of his late wife, and I fully support his efforts to turn a family tragedy into something positive for the whole country. Danny didn’t win this season, but I predict that many young children will look up to him as their American Idol.