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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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