Living the Dream’s main focus is introducing sick children and young adults to their musical heroes and creating what the foundation calls Dream Days, which can include meet-and-greets with artists, VIP access to concerts and special events, or hospital visits. Hundreds of Dream Days have been realized since the foundation launched in 2007. In addition to Pierce the Veil, acts that have participated include Blink-182, Slipknot, Sheryl Crow and Willie Nelson.
Outside of being an ambassador for the past three years, Fuentes has limited nonprofit experience, but when the opportunity arose to take on a leadership role at his favorite charity, he felt like it was his calling.
“I’ve never run a nonprofit before,” he says, “but I’ve learned a lot by working with Living the Dream over the years. When the foundation wanted to move forward together, I saw it as a crossroad in my life, and I chose making it a bigger part of my life. I didn’t see it coming, but my heart is fully in it.”
The path to Fuentes’ new position opened up when he saw an Instagram post from Living the Dream co-chairman/founder Scottie Somers, who was born with cystic fibrosis, stating that the foundation was struggling after losing a big sponsor. “It was very organic,” says Fuentes. “I commented on the post saying that I was willing to help out in any way I could, and the conversation started from there.”
His first goal as co-chairman/CEO is “reviving, relaunching and rebranding the whole thing,” he says.
“Living the Dream already has deep roots and relationships with festivals and promoters, with lots of respect and a great reputation. What we lack is name recognition among fans; a lot of people don’t seem to know about us. So we have to try to be more in the public eye and get more support from people, and I know that I can promote the foundation and show that it’s an amazing cause.”
Part of this is revamping the website and social media to “touch people’s hearts” by sharing photos and videos of Dream Day participants.
“I have somewhat of a design background, so I’m working on the website as we speak. And I’m dragging every friend I have into this. We’re all pitching in with whatever strengths we have and whatever outlet and resources we have -- like my girlfriend, Danielle, is a pro at running social media, so she’s taking that on.”
He also has brought on his booking agent, Dave Shapiro of Sound Talent Group, as president. “His resources are really going to help us out,” says Fuentes, who will be overseeing a “lean and mean” staff of seven at the foundation.
“In the end, our goal is so simple: making Dream Days happen. We help people with terminal illnesses have the best day of their life. It gives them a chance to take their mind off of everything and feel energized -- anyone that’s struggling with a terminal illness deserves to have a little break. A lot of other charities are kind of blurry or fuzzy as to what their goals are, and you don’t really know where your money is going because you don’t physically see what’s happening or know exactly what they’re doing to help. But what we do is simple and not at all confusing.”
Pierce the Veil -- whose last album, 2016’s Misadventures, debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 -- is currently working on a new record. Once it starts touring again, Fuentes says the band will be fundraising, participating in Dream Days and using its platform any way it can to raise the foundation’s profile.
As for juggling being a frontman and co-chairman/CEO, Fuentes thinks there will be a “nice balance” between the two.
“I haven’t done anything but music for the last 15 years,” he says, “so it feels amazing to be doing something that uses a different part of my brain and skill set. It feels like when we first started the band and we were just doing everything we could to build it up and spread the word. That’s what we’re doing right now with Living the Dream: trying to spread the word. Because the more support we have, the more Dream Days we can make happen.”