About Tony Melendez:
Originally from Rivas, Nicaragua, born without arms and a clubbed foot due to the drug, Thalidomide. Tony’s mother was prescribed this drug for morning sickness by her doctor and had no idea how it would affect her unborn son. At the age of one Tony’s family immigrated to the USA so Tony could have corrective surgery on his left foot in order for him to walk.
Tony grew up in a home where mom protected and cared greatly for him and at the same time had a father who encouraged and pushed him to do things on his own. As he had no arms Tony had to learn to do almost everything with his feet and at the age of sixteen taught himself how to play the guitar with his toes. As he grew proficient at his guitar playing he also matured as a singer and composer, in 1987 he was asked by the youth of Los Angeles to be their gift to Pope John Paul II. It was this internationally broadcast event that set Tony’s career in to high gear, now more than 31 years later Tony has traveled to all fifty states and more than 44 foreign countries.
Tony has been on shows such as Good Morning America, Hour Of Power with Robert Schuller, Arsenio Hall, 700 Club, Jerry Lewis Telethons, and prime time network specials for Variety Clubs and Very Special Arts.
Tony travels with his brother Jose and together they share with young and old their message of hope, encouragement, and faith. Tony’s message and story are presented with music and his personal life stories. As they continue to travel they focus on young people by going into elementary, Jr. high schools, high schools, colleges and universities. Tony presents himself as a victim of drugs and the harm they can cause. Tony and Jose also include in their program how important self esteem is to young people and incorporate how any kind of substance abuse is dangerous. They also talk about how they deal with issues such as Disability Awareness, Cultural Awareness and Family Support. Todays most troubling issue is bullying and both Tony and Jose share their stories of overcoming this issue through changes in attitude and discipline.
Tony has recorded 6 albums, Never Be The Same, Ways of The Wise, El Muro se Callo, Cup Of Life, Hands In Heaven and Hope/Esperanza! He also has his autobiography, A Gift Of Hope, published by Harper and Row!
Tony is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including special commendations from President Reagan, State of California, The City of Los Angeles, and countless other civic and charitable organizations, as well as the first annual Inspirational Hero Award from the NFL Alumni Association at Super Bowl XXIII in Miami.
Tony moved from California and now resides in Branson with his wife Lynn and two kids, Marisa and Andres. Despite all the travel over the last 31 years, Tony continues to resist the siren song of stardom, hoping only to develop his musical career and share his God given gifts. ” I don’t feel like a celebrity,” he says with a smile, ” I just feel like me!”