Inspiration Inspires Inspiration: Lee Perreira continues to raise funds and awareness

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Veterans are personal to singer Lee Perreira.

His father was in the Air Force, and his grandfathers were in the Air Force and Marines. Following his mantra of “inspiration inspires inspiration,” Perreira ran 16 marathons in 16 days in mid-June to raise $5,000 for an egress door and a handicap ramp at the Buckeye VFW.

“That was my attempt at running 100 miles in 24 hours to raise money for veterans through my nonprofit, 16 x 16,” Perreira says.

“The goal was $5,000, and we raised over $15,000. I have so much respect for veterans.”

He will present the check in early September. Previously, he collected funds for Chrysalis, AHCF and Arizona Cancer Foundation for Children.

“I recently donated my time at Chrysalis, which works with domestic violence survivors,” he says. “I went during a time when people were eating and played songs. Once I started playing, this little girl got closer and closer — then she got really close. Music brings out the best in people.”

Running 100 miles in one day was the goal; he stopped at 81. He longed to finish, so three days later he did just that.

“I’ve been pretty beat up since then,” he says with a laugh. “But seriously, I find it so fulfilling. It gives me extra motivation to work out and be physical. Whenever I do any of these things, personally, I grow a lot. I learned a lot about myself and pushing through tough times.”

A TV news outlet filmed Perreira with some of the veterans and, he says, good energy filled the room.

To celebrate finishing his run, he’s headed to Costa Rica with his fiancée and then returns to the Valley to play the Musical Instrument Museum on Friday, August 19. He’s pushing “Live @ MIM Pt. 2,” recorded last July.

“We actually filmed the night, too,” he says. “We’ll be back with a full 10-piece band. The horn section adds so much energy. The last time I saved the horn section for the encore. Nobody even knew the horns were there. I’ll be using them for more than just the encore.”

Several years ago, Perreira decided to consistently release music, longing not to have gaps in release dates.

“I don’t make enough money to be able to invest the time and money into putting out a full-length album every year, which is what I would want to do,” he says.

“I have tons of tunes. I release something three to 10 times a year, whether it’s a single or an album or whatever. I have two singles ready to drop. I just don’t know when I’m going to do it. I may do fall and winter. I have enough music to get me through this year and all of next year.”

The plan works for Perreira and allows him to feel like he has forward momentum with music.

A rebirth

Music is part of Perreira’s rebirth. He never felt like he was a bad guy, but “I definitely could have done better.”

His downward spiral began when his brother, who was struggling with heroin, died unexpectedly.

“If you would have asked me if I was OK, I probably would have told you, ‘I’m fine,’” he says. “Then I got three DUIs in less than six months. My brother died right in the middle of that. He was living on the streets. He had stolen from our family. It was a hard thing to go through, to have your brother reaching out to you. I told him I would pay a bill, but I wasn’t going to give him money. That wears on you.

“Then, for him to die, it just really rocked our family. Then, here I am (screwing) up my own life, getting three DUIs. That was weighing on my family, too. Obviously, it needed to happen because I fought this case for three years. I lost and had to go to Florence West for four months.”

In prison he ran his first marathon. After all, he wasn’t trying to make friends there.

“I was this crazy white gringo running laps all day, but I needed to focus on something,” he says. “I said, ‘Let me break this down. What would a marathon be? Oh, 26.2 miles. That would be 102 laps.’”

On Father’s Day 2018, he ran 26.2 miles in prison. When he got out, he figured he would promote his record by running and performing at the Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon. Forty-five minutes after he finished, he was onstage performing with his band.

“I was devastated afterward,” he says now with a laugh. “My feet were throbbing, and the band was like, ‘Are we doing this again?’ I said, ‘Hell no.’”

That, in turn, has lifted up every other aspect of his life.

“My business has gone up,” he says. “My songwriting has gone up. My original music reach has gone up. My relationship with my fiancée has improved. I really want to surround myself with positive people and people who are moving in a certain direction.”

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