More than 100 emails and phone calls poured in after September's Floridian story about 16-year-old Adán Martinez and the viola that changed his life. He had been busking to make payments on the instrument he named Lamar and had more than $1,200 to go. But within a week, readers calling Violin Shop Tampa had paid off his tab.
They didn't stop there.
Frank Prescott of St. Petersburg offered $1,500 toward a cello, the second instrument Adán is learning to play so he can qualify for the Juilliard music school in New York. The violin shop matched his generosity, creating a $3,000 donation.
The day he brought the cello home, Adán slept on the living room couch with the instrument propped up against him.
Bob Rosenberger of Spring Hill is making Adán a handcrafted music stand out of walnut-stained maple. Adán says the craftsmanship will be a constant reminder of the discipline, skill and care he needs to bring to every practice session.
Myron Rosenblum of New York — who studied viola with Adán's YouTube hero, William Primrose — winters in Gulfport and has offered free lessons while he is in town. Rosenblum holds music degrees from Queens College and New York University, and has appeared as viola d'amore soloist with the New York City Opera, New York Philharmonic and other renowned orchestral groups.
Adán's voice cracks when he talks about the chance to have those lessons.
Kathy Dreyer of Palm Harbor wrote Adán and told him how she lost her son Cody at age 28 in a motorcycle accident. She wrote about how Cody loved music, how much he would have loved the story and how she hoped Adán would keep her son in his heart when he played.
"I started dedicating my practice sessions to Cody in my mind, and it helped make the sessions go long. This was around the time of the all-state high school orchestra, and thinking of the two of them helped me feel more prepared," Adán says.
"All this encouragement and support is just overwhelming. I've had encouragement, but this many people all pushing me forward? I'm just so thankful. After the concussion (he suffered when punched by a school bully in 2012), I had a lot of negative thoughts about how maybe I can't have a music career, like maybe I could never do it. The fact that all the people who read the article are behind me, that they believe I can do it, I really believe a music career is becoming a reality."