Armless Guitarist Spreads Message of Hope

Seeing Tony Melendez, you'd think his story was a sad one. "When I was born," says Melendez, "there was a medicine called thalidomide that was given to my mother I should say before I was born.  She took this medicine, they didn't know at that time that it would harm the child.  So when I came into this world, I came into this world without the arms and with a left foot that was club."

However, Melendez's story is anything but sad.  From a young age, the Nicaraguan who traveled to the United States for countless surgeries had a passion for music.     "My father played the guitar when I was younger and I kept bugging him, I want to play the guitar- his guitar.  Just wanted to mess with it.  One day my toes got a hold of his guitar."  What his toes did, was unbelievable!

Melendez had been playing music for years, but said he didn't fully understand his purpose or his mission until he played for the pope.  "He jumped off the stage in 1987 at a youth gathering, a televised youth gathering and jumped off the stage and came over and kissed me and that was a gift given from the young people to the pope.  And he says to me Tony you are hope and continue giving hope to others.  I have been trying to live those words as best that I can to be hope in today's world."

Tony Melendez, a shining example of overcoming a seemingly insurmountable obstacle.

Melendez says, "An armless guy, a lot of people may look at you and say well he's not going to be able to do this, he's not going to be able to do that.  I drive, I'm married, I play the guitar, I can string a guitar.  I do things with my feet that people say....Wow!  So if I can do something, don't even say you can't.  Cause I know you can!"

The next time you're feeling down, feeling helpless or feeling defeated, just think about the man with no arms, a club foot and a passion for playing music.


Tony Melendez performed at Loyola University last week as part of their "Loyola Week" celebration.  He travels around the world performing and has visited more than 40 different countries!