Fort Myers, Fla. — The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t taken the Christmas spirit from Willie Miller. Dressed up with his Santa hat, he showed off the gifts he’s giving to several Southwest Florida kids. The Collaboration Band leader sang a different tune when he spoke to Fox 4 in June.
“I let my guards down one day. And that’s all it took was one day,” said Miller from a hospital bed on June 30th.
All it took to land him in the hospital with a severe case of COVID-19. During that time he also lost his close friend and lead singer AJ mullins.
But, like many people in Southwest Florida, he said the pandemic wouldn’t stop him from making a living, even after contracting the virus.
“I just refused to let COVID take over and just shut me down and just go in the house and not do anything,” he said.
Since then, the band has put on benefit concerts, like one raising $13,000 for Harry Chapin Food Bank, and one for the Mullins family.
But, a lot has changed since June. The band wears masks up until show time and immediately after the last note is played. They also changed how they interact with fans.
“People want to talk to us. They’re used to being able to come over and touch us and hug and stuff. But we can’t do that right now,” said Mullins.
As you prepare for whatever plans you have this holiday season, Mullins urges you to protect yourself too, starting with a mask, even if those around you choose not to.
“They should respect your wishes of wearing a mask, just like you respect their wishes not to,” he said.
His band is preparing for their next live performance in Marco Island - something he didn’t imagine he’d be doing six months ago.
“From going to being in a hospital bed to being back on stage performing now; it doesn’t get any better than that,” he said.
Miller says he’ll be the first in line to get the vaccine when it’s available to the public. For now, he’ll continue to protect himself, his band mates, and fans the best way he can.