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Renowned Guitarist Has No Arms!

Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images

People with purpose succeed because they know where they’re going.  Tony Melendez, who was born without arms, knows the power of purpose.  Tony is an accomplished guitarist.  “I had the guitar very close to me as a youngster.  I’d watch my father play the instrument never ever imagining that one day (through tuning) I could actually play the guitar with my toes.”

What did it take for Tony to make his dream come true?  “It literally involved a major commitment and an enormous amount of time practicing.  I sat in my room every day and played the guitar hour after hour after hour.  Nothing was going to get in my way.”

Tony was unstoppable in spite of his disability.  On September 15, 1987, the talented musician played his guitar for the late Pope John Paul II in Los Angeles.  The pontiff was in awe of the young man.  “I remember sitting in front of the Pope surrounded by thousands of young people at Universal Theatre.  We were hooked up by television worldwide.  In my head, I was saying, ‘Tony, don’t mess up.’”

When word got out about the performance, Tony’s life shifted into high gear.  “All of a sudden, I started getting calls from people in the United States and other countries to perform at different venues, including prisons, high schools, universities.  So far, I have traveled to 27 foreign countries.  It was like an overnight world wind.  It happened back in 1987 and here we are today.   I’m still going.”

Tony, the author of his best selling autobiography A Gift Of Hope, says people who achieve have something in common—can do attitudes and a heavy dose of perseverance.  “If you don’t believe in yourself, all of a sudden, you’ll become stagnant.   Every time you say ‘I can’t do this,’ you hurting yourself.’  I don’t even think we should use those words.  We can achieve if we apply ourselves.”

Still to this day, Tony doesn’t take credit for his success.  He says, no doubt about it, God is responsible for the many blessing in his life.  “God is the ultimate. I need Him.  I want Him to be a part of what I’m doing.  Whatever I can do to give back to Him, I’m going to do.”

Tony Melendez has achieved the kind of success an American educator once talked about.  “Success,” according to Booker T. Washington, “is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles he has overcome while trying to succeed.”

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