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Tony Melendez Plays the Guitar with His Feet

Updated on July 12, 2009

Who is Tony Melendez? Who is Nick Vujicic?

I am sure most of us are awed by stories of great courage like the foot and mouth painters’ stories; the blind musicians; the polio-stricken writer and many more similar stories . It warms the heart to see people with different forms of disability who are not limited by their disabilities. It is indeed politically correct not to focus on a person’s disability but on the talent or strength that goes with the disability. Referring to people with disability as differently abled is truly a fair and humane way of viewing disability.

I was looking for a teaching material for my session with young social workers who were in the process of learning how to develop a learning module. The first learning module being developed by these young professionals was the module on human values and relationships in relation to community organizing. In the course of my research, I stumbled on a video clip which blew me away. I thought my well-earned inner bravery was enough to make me feel self-confident in any situation. I felt I was nothing compared to this story of a life I saw on video. The name of the guy is Tony Melendez. As I watched through all the other videos of Tony Melendez, I learned from Tony’s revelations that his views on a lot of things changed when he saw the video on Nick Vujicic. Nick is a young man who brings hope to millions of people all over the world through his story. He was born with no arms and no legs. He is writing a book entitled: "No Arms. No Legs. No Limits"

Tony Melendez was born in Nicaragua forty-seven years ago. He was a thalidomide baby. He didn’t know how it felt to have arms as he came into this world with no arms. As a boy he listened to his father play the guitar and at first he thought of the guitar as just a plaything. But later in his childhood he developed a great interest in the guitar but nobody was around to teach him. In school, his classmates shouted at him: “No tiene brazos!”When he grew up and developed an attraction for women the same reaction by the object of his love was: “No tiene brazos.” Not having arms was painful. “Dolía el corazon. Me dolía mucho.” he said. But he didn’t stop at the loneliness that became part of his life. He taught himself to play the guitar. No teacher was around who knew how to play the guitar with one’s feet so he taught himself how to play the guitar with his feet. His hands were his feet. Later, he learned how to drive with his feet.

The video of Nick served as a source of great inspiration for Tony. With neither arms nor legs, Nick’s life is like that of any normal person. His video says: No arms. No legs. No limits. He cooks his food, does computer work, listens to music and jumps into the swimming pool. Millions of people listen to Nick's story.

Tony plays the guitar for a living. He now lives in the U.S. He has a wife and two adopted kids. The most moving part of Tony’s words are these: “All it takes for a person to do that which looks impossible is to stand up and say: I can! I will!

On September 15, 1987, in an amphitheatre in Los Angeles, California with Pope Paul II present,

Tony Melendez was presented as a guitarist to play a tribute to the Pope in a papal visit to the US in 1987. After Tony’s rendition, the Pope went down from his seat on the stage to where Tony was and kissed him. He told Tony that he was a courageous man and he should continue giving hope to everyone. Moved by what the Pope said in the presence of six thousand youth and other guests, Tony said that from that day on it was as if God told him: You will be my hand and my feet. I had to work. I had to help. I had to continue singing.

Here’s the video of Tony Melendez.

Tony Melendez

 A grateful person blooms like a flower.This photo is from
A grateful person blooms like a flower.This photo is from

Nick: No arms. No legs. No limits.

Here's the story of the person that totally changed the way Tony Melendez viewed things.If you have enough time to explore further on what Nick does, just click on the related video clips that automatically appear at the bottom of the video once this first video ends.

Nick's story inspired Tony Melendez

Nick brings hope to millions of people.


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    • franciaonline profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Philippines

      Hi cashmere,

      Indeed, Tony Melendez' story and that of Nick Vujicic are worth telling all the time. They remind us that there is power inside each of us!

    • franciaonline profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Philippines


    • franciaonline profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Philippines

      Hi Iphigenia,

      Thanks for leaving a generous comment! I had the same feeling as you when I stumbled on the Tony Melendez video.

    • franciaonline profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Philippines


    • cashmere profile image


      9 years ago from India

      What an amazing hub. Really inspirational. Thanks for bringing them to our notice.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Those two young men, and you of course, just made my day. I'm blessed as they are - but they have made the most of their belssings. Now I'm inspired to seek to use mine more effectively.

    • franciaonline profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Philippines

      Hi delsky,

      I can relate to what you said about the guitar. Same here. I play the guitar but put it aside because of pragmatic concerns in life. Now that I am picking it up, I can't play it because my left pointing finger grew a tumor that it had to be removed last January. Intuitively I thought music and literature must have sulked because I sort of abandoned them. But I promise myself that when my left hand gets well, I'll pick up my classic guitar and move on with it.

      I'm happy that you drew inspiration from Tony Melendez' story. Thanks for leaving a generous and encouraging comment.

    • delzky profile image


      9 years ago

      When I started to view the video, just the picture of the guitar. . . I wanted to weep already. The classical guitar touches deep chords in my being. I have 2 arms and 10 complete fingers and I play the guitar well. But the concerns of life made me put it aside. Now this video pulls me back to my calling. To my first love. Thanks Francia for inspiring us in your hub

    • franciaonline profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Philippines

      Hi cindyvine,

      Tony Melendez' life is full of love and hope! When he said that in the eyes of God he is complete, my tears just fell. I should say the same words to myself.

      Thanks for dropping by.

    • franciaonline profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Philippines

      Hi Cris,

      Isn't it true that there is indeed a perfect side in each of us?I was having a lump in my throat while watching Tony play the guitar with his feet. I could see myself in many instances in my life in the past wishing I had a different reality. Tony just pricks all the bubbles still surrounding me that need to burst.

      Thanks for dropping by, Cris.

    • cindyvine profile image

      Cindy Vine 

      9 years ago from Cape Town

      What a great inspirational story!

    • Cris A profile image

      Cris A 

      9 years ago from Manila, Philippines


      Yes the videos blew me away too. And i thank God you stumbled upon Tony's video and wrote this hub. His story is very inspiring and worth sharing. Specially to the likes of me who still feels constricted by my "completeness". I am selfish and should be mollified by my incessant complaints about how the world makes me feel. Truly I am humbled and now know better. Thanks for sharing :D

    • franciaonline profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Philippines

      You're right Jerilee Wei. I soon as I finished watching the video of Tony Melendez, I thought of sharing his story through this hub. Yeah, I am inspired and humbled too. Thanks for dropping by.

    • Jerilee Wei profile image

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      I don't know how anyone couldn't watch those two videos and not come away inspired and humbled, or ever complain about the unfairness of life. Great hub!


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