PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — The crowd at Monday’s Diamondbacks game watched a powerful moment at Chase Field before the game even began. John Driskell Hopkins, one of the singers and instrumentalists for Zac Brown Band, sang the national anthem just days after the band went public with his ALS diagnosis.
This was Hopkins’ very first solo performance since announcing the diagnosis. He was proudly wearing a Diamondbacks jersey and said the opportunity to still be singing is something he doesn’t take for granted, now hoping he can make a difference in ALS research.
“More recently, I’ve noticed some slurring of speech,” he said. “I speak and sing for a living so I can overcome it, but I notice it a lot. I wanted to be able to look my daughters in the eye and tell them we did everything that we could.”
Hopkins is one of the founding members of the popular Zac Brown Band, who he’s been with since 2005. It only made sense they all stand together as Hopkins told the world by video just a week ago about his life-changing diagnosis. “After careful analysis by some of the country’s top neurologists, I have been diagnosed with ALS,” Hopkins’ said in a video posted to the band’s YouTube page.
He said he first started noticing balance issues and stiffness back in 2019 and was eventually diagnosed with the disease this past December. He wasn’t sure he’d go public with it, then decided this was bigger than him and needs more research and funding. “The only way to do that is to use the platform that we have in music to get the word out,” Hopkins said.
Hopkins is now dedicating many performances to the foundation he recently created called “Hop on a Cure” to raise money for finding a cure for ALS. He said the band quite literally has his back as his disease progresses. “I see them ready to help me grab an arm or something like that in case I do find myself unsteady,” Hopkins said.
He said he has no plans to put down the mic for as long as possible. “It’s an honor; I don’t take it lightly, and I’m proud of it,” Hopkins said.
If you want to donate to Hopkins’ foundation, you can go to www.hoponacure.org or text “Hop” to 345-345. Zac Brown Band is scheduled to play at Chase Field on tour this November, and Hopkins said he absolutely plans to be there performing.
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