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Dancing Without Arms


Tony Melendez can't clap or shake your hand, but he can sure jam on the guitar. Even though Tony was born without arms, he has become a talented guitarist. He received the Inspirational Hero Award from the NFL Alumni Association at Super Bowl XXIII in Miami.

Tony Melendez may have been born without arms, but that didn't stop him from dancing, dating, playing the guitar and enjoying life to the fullest.

Tony was born without arms in 1962 as a result of his mother taking the prescription drug, Thalidimide.

Today, Tony is known around the world for playing the guitar with his feet. In 1985, Tony began playing and singing in the Los Angeles area. Just two years later, his life was changed forever when he performed for the Pope before a live audience of 6,000 people and a TV audience of millions. Tony was instantly thrown into the limelight.

But before Tony became famous for jamming on the guitar with his toes, he had a few dating obstacles to overcome, especially in his high school years.

Tony said: "Girls would take me on as a sympathy project, then just disappear. I didn't blame them. Who would want a boyfriend with no arms? It's not easy being a teenager.

I went to my first dance without a date. Just as I thought, I ended up standing alone against the back wall of the gym. I remember feeling a little uncomfortable, wondering if I should ask someone to dance or if someone would eventually ask me.

All of a sudden one of the girls from my English class walked up to me, looked me in the eye impatiently, and said, "Let's go!" It was obvious that she wanted me to dance with her. Her approach wasn't very romantic, but seconds later we were tearing up the dance floor.

I don't think that girl will ever know how important she was to me that night. At various times in my life people like her have come along to say or do just the right thing when I needed it. Those sensitive ones are the hope-givers. They're rare, because they can get their minds off their own problems long enough to reach out to help someone else in need."

You too can be a hope-giver! You can start today by reaching out and helping those in need. You can make a difference!

Adapted from: A Gift of Hope. Melendez, Tony. San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1989.

Editors note: Tony and his wife Lynn live with their daughter Marisa in Texas. For information about Tony's music and concerts, please call 1-888-264-4044.


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