Many schools across the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board have had the opportunity to hear from powerful speaker, Tony Melendez. On November 10, Tony visited Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School and shared his presentation on "Mercy: Created in God's Image."
A thalidomide baby, Tony was born without arms because his mother was prescribed thalidomide a drug used to help calm morning sickness during her pregnancy. He was brought to the Los Angeles area from Nicaragua to be fitted with artificial arms. He wore them until he was ten, when he disposed of them. "I didn't feel comfortable," he explains, "I could use my feet so much more."
His proficiency with his feet extended to more areas than just day-to-day care. He remembers that "at first, I started playing push-button organ. Then in high school I began playing around with the guitar and harmonica." He also began writing his own songs. Whether it was "playing around" with music or merely adjusting to a normal high school routine, Tony never let his handicap get in his way. "I was pretty secure in what I could do," he says.
Today he is known around the world for playing the guitar with his feet.
After hearing his inspiring story, you'll understand why he has appeared on numerous television shows including "Good Morning America" and "The Today Show," and many more. He has also received several awards including the Inspirational Hero Award from the NFL Alumni Association at Superbowl XXIII in Miami and the Branson Entertainment Award for the Best New Artist in 1999, and awards from Variety Clubs of America, The Very Special Arts Council, The City of Los Angeles and countless other civic and charitable organizations. Tony has albums in both English and Spanish and has performed in over 40 countries and hundreds of high schools around the world.
Tony is a powerful speaker and is frequently invited to give presentations to young people on the importance of self-esteem, disability awareness, cultural awareness and family support and most of all HOPE!
Tony's inspiring story will challenge viewers to embrace life and give hope to those in need.