Melendez, a Nicaraguan American, was born without arms and a clubbed foot due to the drug Thalidomide his mother was prescribed for morning sickness during her pregnancy. He has spent his life putting confidence and perseverance above his disability—a message he has shared with vast audiences across all 50 states and more than 44 countries, including the late pontiff, St. John Paul II.
Melendez will conduct two morning performances for Seton students on Monday, Jan. 30. That evening, he will perform “A Night of Musical Inspiration and Hope” at 7 p.m. at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Chandler, sponsored by Seton Catholic. He will also conduct a performance in Spanish, sponsored by St. Mary’s Parish, at 7 p.m. at the church on Jan. 31. Both evening performances are open to the public.
“We are honored to bring the talented Tony Melendez to the Valley and his essential message to our youth as part of Seton’s speaker series,” said Dr. David Sorkin, Seton assistant principal. “Tony is a testament to determination, the spiritual gift we are focusing on with our students this year.”
The Melendez family immigrated to the U.S. when Tony was 1 year old so he could be fitted with artificial arms. Always loved and encouraged to accomplish things on his own by his parents, Melendez wore the prosthetics until he was 10, when he disposed of them, recalling, “I didn’t feel comfortable. I could use my feet so much more.” At the age of 16, he taught himself how to the play the guitar with his toes. As Melendez grew proficient on the guitar, his gifts for singing and songwriting emerged.