More than 450 students at Hofstra University gathered last week to record the chorus of a lively song to lift the spirits of a child with leukemia with John Beltzer, the founder of the Songs of Love Foundation. Songs of Love is an organization of more than 350 talented songwriters and recording artists throughout the country who compose and record original, personalized songs for children with serious illnesses. With Hofstra students comprising this foundation's largest collegiate chorus, Songs of Love celebrated its 6,000th song.
"I couldn't have asked for a more spectacular way to celebrate this occasion than to have hundreds of enthusiastic Hofstra students raise their healing voices in song," Beltzer said.
Following a brief rehearsal of the music and lyrics, Beltzer conducted Hofstra students as they sang and recorded the chorus of a Song of Love for Long Island's Brendan Miranda, a 5-year-old boy who was diagnosed with leukemia in August. Brendan, his parents, Michele and Dominick, his sisters, Saoirse and Kiera, and his brother, Jack, were present for this special occasion.
"There are so many low points in treating cancer and undergoing chemotherapy. Yet one night like this compensates for all the difficulties and challenges. One night, one song filled with so much love, takes away so much of the pain," Michele Miranda said. "Everyone is singing it around the house -- Brendan, his sisters, brother, and me! It means so much to us. It's phenomenal. Things like this keep us afloat. This is the salvation."
"This amazing program really put things in perspective. It was incredible. Look at what we did -- just by taking an hour to come together and sing a song, such a small act of kindness, we made such a difference in Brendan's life," said Heather Gibbons, the president of the Student Government Association.
By the end of the night, more than thirty students signed up to be Songs of Love Music Messengers, volunteering to encourage ailing children in hospitals and other health care facilities to fill out the profile sheet that will lead to CDs of their own personalized songs. The foundation's goal is to write Songs of Love for 1,800 children in 2005.
"What a moving, inspiring, joyful program," said Rabbi Meir Mitelman, executive director of Hofstra Hillel, "combining music, the language of the soul, with hundreds of soulful students to create a memorable evening of Tikkun Olam."
Hofstra's Student Government Association and Inter-Fraternity/Sorority Council joined Hillel as lead sponsors of the event. Co-sponsors included the Office of Student Activities, Muslim Students Association, Newman Club, Protestant Community, Circle K, Hofstra Gospel Ensemble, and Sigmacappella.