Hope, help, and healing. Those are three things I experienced and witnessed at the To Write Love On Her Arms Turns 10 celebration on April 2nd.
For 10 years, TWLOHA has been helping those who struggle with depression, self-injury, suicide, and addiction find hope and get the treatment they need. It all started with one story, and has grown to over 180,000 stories. And over this past decade they’ve shown us that each story is important. The story that you will tell in your life is important.
The night opened with a video recapping 10 amazing years. Within the first minute, I was already in tears. Not out of sadness, but because of how powerful of an organization this is. Every instance of praise and every accolade received was more than earned.
Once the screen was lifted, the curtains at the House of Blues in Orlando opened and standing on stage were poets Sierra DeMulder and Tonya Ingram. I had never heard of these women before, but I can’t shake their performances from my conscience. Every word was spoken so elegantly and with so much power that it stopped us all in our tracks. The two women shared the first poem, which ended in a resounding and repetitive chorus of “We will see you tomorrow.” – a phrase with so much meaning and so much promise. Each poet moved the crowd individually, by both causing tears to be shed and laughter to ring out.
The night was also filled with amazing performances. Renee Yohe was the first to perform, beautifully singing two Bearcat songs. Between the songs, she reminisced on her experiences over the last decade. The fact that she was still here 10 years later to speak about the events that lead to the start of TWLOHA was the most important piece of information to take away that evening. She made it through the darkest of days, and has now helped more people than she could ever imagine. Her story fills me with hope.
First time Heavy and Light performer Matt Wertz definitely brought a lightness to the room. He was funny, and made everyone in the room feel important. His song selections were upbeat and he stunned the crowd with his astounding vocal abilities.
TWLOHA founder Jamie Tworkowski made a couple very brief appearances. During one appearance, he read an excerpt from his book If You Feel Too Much. The passage was one of my favorites from the book and to hear it read aloud by the man who penned it was a once in a lifetime experience.
Veteran Heavy and Light guests and long-time TWLOHA supporters The Summer Set took the stage and got everyone dancing. The band had just released their brand new album, Stories For Monday, the night before and mainly played songs from that. Lead singer Brian Logan Dales remarked on how the band has planned on breaking up last summer, but found a second wind and made their best album to date. Giving up wasn’t an option, and that’s a great message for everyone to hold on to.
Closing the night was Jon Foreman of Switchfoot. TWLOHA credits Jon with giving the organization the small push it needed to become what it is today. Jon wore the very first TWLOHA shirt on March 30, 2006 at a Switchfoot show. From there, the rest is history. The performance was engaging and absolutely amazing. It was emotional and uplifting. To end the show, all the performers came out on stage and did two songs together.
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