Monday, January 23, 2012

Tony Melendez

Back in the 1960s, Tony Melendez's mother was given thalidomide during her pregnancy. Because of this, Tony was born without arms. Tony's father decided to move the family from its home in Nicaragua to the United States, where medical care and the overall environment would be better for his handicapped son.

Encouraged by his parents, Tony taught himself how to use his feet and toes like the rest of us use ours hands and fingers. Tony brushes his teeth, puts on his name it, he can do it.

By his teen years, Tony had taught himself to play a guitar specially tuned for his needs. The other night, Tony brought his band to Silver Spring for a show that we had the chance to take in. It was quite an evening, full of sing-a-longs and inspirational stories from Tony and his band mates.

Tony's brother at one point shared the story of how, as a kid, he told his mother that he wanted a "normal" brother. Lurking in the doorway, Tony heard this story, went and grabbed a Frisbee, and showed it to his brother. The boys went outside, Tony's brother threw the disc, which Tony caught between his head and shoulder. Using his feet and toes, Tony winged the Frisbee back at his brother...and hit him square in the nose!

The brothers then re-lived this moment, with Tony catching the Frisbee once again, and then tossing it way out into the amazed audience. A cool moment in an incredible evening...



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