Donald Gould sat down at a piano at a public arts exhibit in Sarasota, Florida, and played. The images of him with his scraggly beard, unwashed hair, and dirty clothes making magic at the keyboard were seen around the world.
Within two days, the video received more than two million views.
Now, Gould has a chance for a new beginning.
In an INSIDE EDITION exclusive, we're giving this homeless man, who is a former Marine, the break he deserves -- Gould is going to get cleaned up.
First, a new wardrobe for him at Sarasota’s Island Pursuit. Gould tried on an outfit in a dressing room.
When he came out of the dressing room, he said: "People won't recognize me."
Next stop: Just Gents Barber Spa. It'll be his first haircut and shave in 18 months.
He saw his new look revealed in the mirror for the first time. After his haircut and shave and after it all came off, he said: "No more caveman!"
What a remarkable change!
There was another stop to make: Gould performed for the first time before a paying crowd, thanks to the good folks at Michael's On East.
At the venue, the emcee said: “We are so very happy to enjoy the company of a very new and exciting celebrity here in Sarasota."
Gould walked on and played his first some, The Beatles classic, “Let it Be,” and the crowd loved it.
After the performance he said: “Before, they look at me with the scruffy face, they’re like, 'Who is the raggedy homeless looking man?' But here, I just walk in like a pro. And no flak whatsoever.”
It's more than just a new look. Gould says this day has gone a long way in restoring his sense of worth. “I got a lot of new respect out here today. I feel pretty confident I can do it. As long as I keep myself together.”
People in restaurant shook his hand and hugged him. One person said: “That was wonderful."
One woman told him: “I am just learning to play the piano. You are amazing."
Now, just maybe, Donald Gould hopes to be in line for the greatest gift of all -- a reunion with his son, who he hasn't seen in 15 years.
“After this, now maybe he'll get in touch with me,” he said.
Before, he was too embarrassed to reach out to his son. Now, after his transformation, hopefully, things are different.
The city of Sarasota is trying to acquire housing for people like Gould and making sure they get access to social services to help them get back into life. If you're interested in helping, you can send contributions to the Gulf Coast Community Foundation.
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