Tony Melendez was born without arms as a result of thalidomide but while some may have found this an obstacle, for Tony it provided him with an opportunity to change lives.
When Tony was young he was brought to the Los Angeles area from his birthplace of Nicaragua to be fitted with artificial arms. He wore them until he was ten, when he disposed of them finding he could use his feet instead. His proficiency with his feet extended to more areas than just his day-to-day care when he got into music. He began playing the guitar and harmonica using his feet and writing his own songs.
Tony used his musical talents for church related activities. His gift caught the attention of the group organizing activities for the World Day visit of Pope John Paul II to Los Angeles in 1987. Excitement became nervousness and then jubilation when the Pope responded to Tony's playing at the event, with a kiss and challenged him to take his message of hope around the world.
Since then Tony has traveled across the United States and to forty foreign countries, making countless television appearances, including on The Today Show, Good Morning America, and CBS This Morning. He is also an author with a best-selling autobiography, A Gift of Hope, which was published in 1989 and a busy musician with seven albums to date.
As an appropriate end to Child Abuse Prevention Month, Highland Shores Children’s Aid will present two performances by Tony Melendez at the Empire Theatre at 7 p.m. on October 27th and 28th, 2014. There are approximately 200 tickets left for this family friendly event which are being offered free of charge to the community. During this “Evening of Hope” Tony and his “Toe Jam Band” will perform and speak about turning challenges into opportunities.
“Highland Shores Children’s Aid wanted to create an event based on hope, something that is often intangible, but very necessary in our lives. This event also fits with the Society’s Mission, Vision and Values which encourages community partnerships and outreach, whenever possible. The event is funded through the Ontario Child Benefit Equivalent (OCBE) from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services which promotes resiliency in children”, said Angus Francis, Manager of Children’s Services for Highland Shores.
Anyone interested in obtaining free tickets to the October 27th or 28th concert should contact Ann Lynch at Highland Shores Children’s Aid, 613-962-9291, ext. 2306 or 800-267-0570, ext. 2306.
Media: for additional information about Tony Melendez, the concerts, or if you are interested in interviewing Tony, contact: Angus Francis, Manager of Children’s Services, Highland Shores Children’s Aid, 613-962-9291, ext. 2373 or 800-267-0570, ext. 2373.