The artists that performed this year were Mary Lambert, Tristin Prettyman, The Summer Set, and Jon Foreman from Switchfoot as the headliner. The speakers in between the acts were Jamie Tworkowski (founder of TWLOHA), Kevin Breel (TEDx speaker), and local counselors Aaron Moore and Deny Kolsch (Solace Counseling in Orlando).
The evening began with an introductory slide show that explained what the night would be all about. “This is not ‘come out for a good cause,’ and we aren’t here to ‘raise awareness.’ Tonight is a night to say it’s OK to be honest. It’s OK to be honest about your questions, and your pain, and the places you feel stuck. It’s OK to be honest, and it’s OK to ask for help.”
It was firmly emphasized that the night was not a benefit show or to raise awareness. It was a night to make an attempt to move one another.
Spoken word poet, Anis Mojgani, was the first one to appear on stage. Mojgani is a well known poet who speaks clearly while emphasizing his words with a force so strong that one will be drawn in immediately to him. His creations are about the real life, the real world, and real problems.
Mary Lambert was up next and wooed the crowd with her stories and bubbly personality. Mary is well known for her part in Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “Same Love” song. Mary combines spoken word poetry with her songs. Her lyrics are raw, full of truth, and overflow with emotion. Many fans could be seen wiping the tears from their glassy and wide open eyes by the end of the first song. Mary opened up her own life stories to complete and unknown strangers and for this particular show something like that was completely acceptable.
Kevin Breel spoke about his depression that he kept hidden as a teenager. He talked about his own personal experience becoming a high school basketball champion all the way up to writing his own suicide note only four hours after claiming that title. He didn’t follow through and wanted to see what life really was like after achieving the goal he wanted to accomplish and that’s when he discovered he truly wanted to be alive. Kevin is now a writer, comedian, and an activist for mental health.
Tristin Prettyman graced the stage with her acoustic guitar and her Shania Twain looks. Just like most attending this event she had her ups and downs as well. Tristin helped break the ice with her little conversations and comedic song lyrics. After hearing a bit of “heavy” conversation it was good to hear some “light” conversation to get some good laughter.
Solace Counseling counselors Aaron Moore and Denny Kolsch spoke as well to the crowd letting them know that they have worked with TWLOHA since 2006 and explained what counseling services they provide and if a person is unable to find the help they need then they will direct them into the correct direction.
The Summer Set’s performance was a low key unplugged performance. Lead singer, Brian Dales, spoke with the crowd about his excitement to be involved with the event this year and how much being involved truly means to the entire band.
Jon Foreman of Switchfoot headlined the event again this year. Jon is a west coast surfer dude who took a beating from his surfboard almost a week before this event which cost him around 30 stitches that trailed diagonally from the corner of his nose to the corner of his lips. It appeared the stitches had already been removed and there was absolutely no sign of the injury slowing him down. His set started off with a care package that a fan brought just for him. “Hey, when somebody gets hurts give them a care package!” he said grinning from ear to ear. Jon had Mary Lambert join him on stage and then later had Brian Dales from The Summer Set join him.
The night was about to end but not until the grand encore. All performing artists united together back on the stage to sing “Lean On Me” together while embracing arms with each other. Mary Lambert, Tristin Prettyman, and Brian Dales all respectively had individual solos while the fans all sang together while swaying back and forth.
To Write Love On Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA is based out of Melbourne, FL, and was founded by Jamie Tworkowski. It all began when Jamie wrote a story about a friend (Rene Yohe) who struggled with self-injury and addiction and the five days that preceding her entry into treatment. This story, titled “To Write Love On Her Arms,” went viral worldwide and t-shirts were printed and sold as a way to pay for his friend’s treatment.
TWLOHA’s action is a world example of how one simple task of helping out another can help millions of others worldwide.