As a philanthropist, most of the time you are actively pursuing your mission of making a positive change in the world and the lives of others but every once in a while, life will present you with an unexpected opportunity to do just that and it will align perfectly with your vision. Serendipitously, this occurred for Eugene Frenkel (Director, Finker-Frenkel Foundation) when he read an article about Sophia Victoria, a young girl with cerebral palsy, who had reached out via social media in hopes of finding someone who may have captured an incredible moment in her life when her biggest idol, Dierk Bentley, had approached her and held her hand for a moment during a show she attended. Eugene was planning a birthday surprise for his wife, a big Dierks Bentley fan, to meet the performer which was made possible through his and the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundations support of Dierks charity “Miles and Music” benefitting Vanderbilt children’s hospital. After reading the article, and feeling that this had been placed in his path for a reason he reached out to Sophia Victoria’s mother….. Full article and inspirational video below…..
Last week US99.5 ran an article on Sophia Victoria, a Dierks Bentley fan who was pleading for help via social media. Sophia attended Dierks’ Sounds of Summer tour on July 9 in Virginia Beach and had an incredible moment when the singer approached her and held her hand for a moment during the show. Needless to say, she wishes she had a photo of the moment!
However, Sophia has cerebral palsy, which causes her to shake. And when Dierks grabbed her in the audience, she wasn’t able to take a photo (she also suffers from memory loss, another reason why she really wanted a photo).
We wrote about the story last month; perhaps you read it.
But we’re really grateful that one person who did read it was Eugene Frenkel.
Frenkel is a South Florida entrepreneur and philanthropist who was planning a birthday surprise for his wife, a big Dierks Bentley fan. That surprise was an acoustic performance and lunch with, Dierks Bentley himself. Mr. Frenkel told us, via email, that “I was able to accomplish this by supporting Dierks and his Miles and Music charity event benefitting Vanderbilt children’s hospital, which is in line with the vision of our family foundation, The Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation.
The thing is, Frenkel isn’t a big country music fan, so naturally, he did some research on the singer. And guess whose article he found online while he was doing his research: “I came across your piece, and the story about how [Sophia] was not able to capture a very special moment in her life. I believe that since I couldn’t help Sophia find this picture, we could make a new one!” And so he started working on recreating Sophia’s big moment.
“After confirming with Dierks that he would meet with her and her family as well as provide them with VIP seats at his concert, I tracked down Sophia’s phone number.”
Apparently Sophia’s mother thought the situation was too good to be true.
“She was convinced I was some telemarketer trying to sell them something or take advantage of them. After a great deal of convincing and sending them information about who I am, she finally gave in and began to cry tears of joy. She said that this was the most incredible thing that could have ever happened to them and that it was a dream come true.”
He continues: “I sent a jet to pick them up Sunday morning. I arranged for Sophia, her sister, mom, and grandma to be flown into Nashville where my driver picked them up and took them to a hotel room that my wife and I decorated with flowers and Bentley gear. Next, they were brought to the Ascend Amphitheater, where Dierks and crew were waiting to meet with Sophia… She stayed for the whole concert and I managed to capture a very powerful shot…Where she stands up (which was very hard for her) and raised her arm up high during his song ‘Riser,’ while wearing a shirt that said ‘Riser’…I got goosebumps when I saw the shot.”
After the show, Frenkel arranged for the jet to fly Sophia and crew back home to Maryland. “I believe that, together with your article, Dierks’ generosity with his time, and the quick response from my team, we helped an amazingly strong girl have the day of her dreams. Although lunch with Dierks was great fun, Sophia was the highlight of our trip” he said. “Thanks to everyone, we should all do these things more often.”
And yes, Sophia now has a wealth of photos of herself, Dierks Bentley and her new special friend, Eugene Frenkel. Check out the photos below, and watch the video of the magical reunion above.