(PHOTO: REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni)
Former American Idol contestant Danny Gokey recently announced his engagement to girlfriend Leyicet Peralta on his charity’s website, Sophia’s Heart, a foundation he set up after the sudden passing of his wife three years ago.
Sharing the news with his family and friends, the country singer, who finished third on season eight of American Idol, stated that he was thrilled to have found his new fiancé who like him, had a passion and desire to help children and families in need.
The two specifically requested their wedding guests to make all gifts in the form of a donation to Sophia’s Heart.
“We are thankful for so many of the blessings God has given us,” the couple penned. “It is our desire to see homeless children and families be kept together and lifted back on their feet through the help of Sophia’s Heart. We love and appreciate you all.”
Gokey, once a big rig truck driver from Milwaukee, rose to fame when he appeared on Fox’s hit show in 2009, encouraged by his late wife to audition.
Just weeks before he auditioned, Sophia, his high school sweetheart, died from what was supposed to be a routine surgery for congenital heart disease due to complications. The couple had been together for 12 years.
The show’s producers highlighted Gokey’s tragic love story during his audition, which touched many viewers.
After singing Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” he received high praises from the judges who called him the best they had seen yet.
Getting a yellow ticket to Hollywood, Gokey eventually advanced through to the finals where he amazed audiences with his soulful voice and wide range.
Upon completing the show, the former praise and worship leader at Faith Builders International Ministry signed with 19 Recordings/RCA Nashville, a major country label and released his first debut album, My Best Days, the following year.
The album debuted on the Billboard charts at number four and recorded the best opening-week sales by a debut country male in 18 years.
Balancing his love for music, with his love for children and teens, the 31-year-old continues to reach out and touch people with his gifts and his strong faith in God.
His goal for his music career is to be a Christian mainstream artist who “reaches out to the multitudes.”
“I want to bring entertainment, but I want to bring encouragement and hope at the same time,” Gokey previously stated.
Alongside his ambitions as an artist, his foundation, inspired by the life of Sophia, also seeks to serve the multitudes, existing to “help mend and heal the hearts of children and families who have been touched by poverty, sickness, disease, broken homes and broken dreams” through music and arts.
Part of the long-term vision of the organization is to establish an orphanage in the Milwaukee area.
As for his personal life, Gokey and his new fiancé plan to be wed late January of 2012.