When three old friends find out that their fourth friend is dying, they decide to play music, just like in the good old days, to raise money for his treatment. They had no idea that thanks to a little girl and her five friends, their efforts would turn into something much bigger.
Sam, Wayne, and Tim were three men in their 60s jamming in the same dusty old garage they used to back when they were in high school.
They chatted away, reminiscing about their school days when they went out and played together as a band. They were immersed in conversation, but with one eye on the door, waiting for the fourth member of their band…
“It feels like it was yesterday, man!” Wayne looked around, eyes wide. “It’s been over 40 years since we boys rehearsed here. Forty years!”
“Aha! And remember when we promised to keep in touch and play together once a week?” Tim laughed. “Sam, remember our brilliant plans?”
“Ah yes! We thought we were inseparable! And now look at us! Old and wrinkly, our joints ache, and we meet at each other’s grandchildren’s weddings… we’re terrible at keeping in touch, except for Will, of course. He calls and texts all the time. You know what he’s like!” Sam smiled, remembering his friend.
“Speaking of Will, where is this guy? He’s the one who planned the whole thing, our main man, and it’s not like him to leave at the last minute…” Sam gave the band an opinion.
At that moment, the phones of all three men buzzed, and the message that appeared on them made their hearts clench.
It was a message from Jenny, Will’s wife.
” Let me drive!” Wayne rushed to his car and the others followed him.
After a few minutes of driving, the three men knocked on the door of their friend’s house and tried to wait patiently.
“Hello, boys!” Jenny looked almost unrecognizably pale, save for the wide, infectious smile on her face.
“Where’s our Will?” asked Sam, kissing Jenny on the forehead.
“He’s taking a nap. The medication makes him drowsy. He hates them!” Jenny frowned, leading them in small steps to the main bedroom.
Tim cautiously opened the door, and he and his friends looked at their best friend. The tall, imposing handsome, affectionate giant of their class was now a semblance of himself, weak, thin, and grunting in his sleep.
The three grown men wept when they saw the fourth member of their group in such a sorry state.
They had heard the whole story of Will’s illness that day from his wife and school sweetheart, Jenny.
“Will’s heart condition is serious, and it has been worsening over the past few months,” Jenny said. “There’s a surgery that could help, the doctors say. But it’s going to cost at least $30,000. And now, after all the treatments, the weddings, and funerals in the family, we don’t have that kind of money anymore.”
“Money isn’t the problem. We’ll pay him whatever it takes…” Wayne started to say.
“Wayne, you know Will. You know how he can relate to money. He’s worked tirelessly to get his family out of debt for generations. And he says he’d rather die than drive his family back into debt,” Jenny said, pausing before uttering her next dreaded sentence.
“At this rate, the doctors are giving him six months,” Jenny said, bursting into tears of helplessness.
The three men, who were like brothers, comforted her, wiped away their own tears, and shook their heads.
“He can’t just leave our world like that!” said Sam as ideas began to pop into his head.
For the next hour, the three old men sat around the coffee table working out a plan, while Jenny watched them in bewilderment. “How could such pure friendship exist in such a cruel world?” – she thought.
The next day, Sam, Wayne, and Tim brought their musical equipment to a busy corner of a neighbourhood park two blocks from their school.
They gathered at 8 a.m., set up the sound, a stand with the band’s name “Playing for Will” on it, and a big stack of flyers to hand out. The men stood there for hours, playing song after song from the golden era of music. They were still perfect together, except for Will’s absent soulful voice.
They took a break for lunch and then got down to business again before the evening rush was over.
From the first song, passers-by wanted to turn around and listen. Tourists stopped to videotape the trio for their social media accounts. People took flyers and made donations through their phones. And the big jar that stood in front of them was also filling up with the money…
Sam, Wayne, and Tim had all the right intentions and planning, but they didn’t take into account their own exhaustion. By the third day, it had become difficult to play even three songs non-stop. Sam’s back started acting up, Wayne couldn’t bear the scorching heat, and Tim’s legs were hurting from standing for too long.
“Alright, boys,” Sam concluded their discussion on the third day. “We’ll do one more day of this. Then I think we ought to rethink our plan…”
“Hey! Hey!” a tiny excited voice interrupted their conversation.
A little girl was standing wide-eyed, pointing at the big poster of Will. “That’s Mr. Schumer! It is him, isn’t it?”
Sam was surprised by the child’s excitement. “Yeah, it is. How do you know him, child?”
“He was the best music teacher we had in school! He taught us about rock music and even helped us start a band of our own!” the girl chirped, making the trio smile.
“Are you his friends? And has he recovered from his illness? When will he be back to teach us?” There was no end to the girl’s questions.
When nine-year-old Harriet found out about her favourite teacher’s illness and the idea of his friends performing outside, she couldn’t wait to tell her friends.
She ran away from the three older men with a brilliant idea in her head.
The very next evening, while Will’s friends were driving back from the park, they noticed the most heartening sight. A group of six schoolchildren was singing and playing the tambourine and the small keyboards right outside the school gate.
They, too, had put up a hand-drawn poster for Will and were calling their band “Little Hearts for Will.”
“Who were these sweet little imposters?” The men wondered as they slowed down to listen to the music for a few minutes. At the center of the band, holding the microphone, was the same excited little girl belting out a Beatles song.
She spotted the three inspiring men, bowed to them with a smile, and continued singing.
That little girl and her five friends performing for their beloved teacher was all the inspiration the tired elderly men needed.
The following morning, Sam, Wayne, and Tim were back at their spot in the park, ready to perform with renewed energy. They played for days and managed to raise a decent amount of money though not nearly enough.
Until one day, they saw the incredible little girl for the third time. She was walking to their spot in the park. Only this time, she had come with the same group of five children who had performed with her, with each of their parents, and a bigger swarm of adults.
“Hi, Mr. Shumer’s friends! We have something for you…” Harriet smiled and handed over an envelope.
The men stared at the unexpected gift in disbelief. It was a check for $50,000!
“All this money…from your school band?” Sam asked, looking at the kids’ faces.
Harriet chuckled and said: “Not just the children, silly! The whole town! The whole town raised that money for our Mr. Schumer… and your Will!”
The little girl explained that the good people of the neighbourhood had taken notice of the two music bands playing in public, and the news that Will needed money for his operation had spread like wildfire.
Impressed by the stories and heroic deeds of the older trio and the young kids, several teenagers got together and organised a city-wide online fundraising campaign for Will.
The three pensioners cried like little children when a crowd of more than 300 people surrounded them with applause.
The money was more than enough to pay for Will’s life-saving surgery and his speedy recovery. Three months later, another meeting was held in the same dusty old garage. Only this time it was not just three jolly old men reminiscing about old times, but all four of them.