When David Neufeglise found out about his ALS diagnosis in 2017, not long after he turned 40, he knew he had to find a way to tell his three young daughters he might not be around to watch them grow up. But he and his wife, Johnna, wanted to keep their home life as consistent as possible. So, later that year, he started writing things down.
It took a long time to find the right words. In the meantime, he had started progression-slowing medication, entered into a clinical trial for stem-cell treatments, and built a wheelchair-accessible addition onto his home. Eventually part of his writings for his daughters began to morph into a poem.
The words David wrote were a message to his girls, saying that he loved them now, and would love them forever… even if he were to pass away.
“’Cause I promise you right now/I’ll always be with you somehow,” he wrote, “Either hand-in-hand or worlds apart/Standing by your side or in your heart/Face-to-face or as a memory/Keep your eyes open and you’ll see/That through the good times and the bad/I will forever be your dad.”
At first David wasn’t sure what to do with the words he’d written. But then one day, while he was driving home from work, Tm McGraw's song "Live Like You Were Dying” came on the radio. It was an old favorite of David’s, but he hadn’t heard it since before his diagnosis. That’s when it hit him: the poem he had written for his daughters was a song.
David reworked the verses into lyrics, and even filed for copyright protection. However, he wasn’t sure of the next steps to get his song recorded, so he reached out to an old friend who had found success in the music business: Leehom Wang.
Leehom is a household name across Asia. He’s sold over 50,000,000 records worldwide and is known as “the King of Chinese Pop.” But before he rose to fame in Taiwan, he was David’s middle and high school classmate. The two even played in band together, although David’s career as a sax player ended after the ninth grade.
Reading his poem, Leehom was struck by the feeling behind David’s words. “"A father’s love for his daughter is like nothing else in the world,” he says. “The same goes for a song that truly comes from the heart."
With this in mind, he set the music to words and helped arrange a songwriting contract for David. He recorded the song and filmed a music video, which has over 35,000 likes and 20,000 comments on the Chinese social networking site Weibo. Since going up on YouTube at the end of February, the video has racked up over half a million views.
Leehom also suggested that they use the success of the song to help raise money for ALS in some capacity. ALS TDI immediately came to mind for David. “I believe that the cure for ALS will ultimately come out of lab research,” he says “and their lab is the most focused on ALS research in the world”
If you’d like to hear the song for yourself you can find it on Spotify or iTunes/Apple Music. You can donate to David and Leehom’s fundraiser here: https://fundraise.als.net/neufstrong