'For Once in My Life' Demonstrates the Greatness Within All of Us

Documentary Film Shows How People with Disabilities Work to Inspire Audiences

ROCKVILLE, MD — From New York to L.A. and from Austin to Edmonton, a movie about The Spirit of Goodwill® Band made up of program participants at Goodwill is winning awards and charming audiences. For Once in My Life is a film that shows the greatness that lies within each of us. This heartwarming story, which has already won awards at film festivals in Nashville, South by Southwest in Austin, Port Townsend, Sarasota and Sonoma, chronicles the band’s 28 members, all of whom have varying developmental and physical disabilities, such as Autism, Down Syndrome and blindness, and a wide range of behavioral disorders.
Since the band first began in 1981 at Goodwill Industries South Florida in Miami, FL, music has been their shared joy — it transcends age, gender, race, physical and mental abilities, and socio-economics. The Goodwill in Miami opened its doors to allow a camera to follow the members of the band as they prepare for a performance at the U.S. Mayor’s Convention. It shatters most preconceived notions of what it means to have a disability.
“For Once in My Life provides a message that is consistent with Goodwill’s philosophy: the people we serve have the same potential and warts that we all possess,” said Jim Gibbons, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. “Just given the opportunity, we can all do amazing things. As we learn about each band member, we realize the humor, hope, compassion and perseverance that exist within us all.”
Viewers follow the lives of lead singer and saxophonist Terry, who is blind; pianist Christian, a virtuoso who is blind and autistic; and soprano Nancy, who has a mental disability and is the primary caretaker and breadwinner for her two older siblings, who also have disabilities, and many other inspiring individuals.
The heartwarming film pays tribute to the teachers and parents who believe in the band members’ abilities, and to others who rise above limited stereotypes themselves to become productive, contributing members of society. With the enthusiastic encouragement of Dennis Pastrana, president and CEO of Goodwill Miami, the rehabilitation team and the band’s musical director, the band makes these accomplishments look easy, but the film demonstrates how breathtakingly hard the work is for these 28 people to perform at such a high caliber.
For screenings and other information, visit www.4onceinmylife.com or find them on Facebook or Twitter.
To learn more about working with people with disabilities, visit www.goodwill.org.