Seton Catholic Preparatory of the East Valley is hosting acclaimed guitarist and singer-songwriter Tony Melendez, who will perform his music and share personal life stories that inspire hope, encouragement and faith. 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 Pope Saint John Paul II.
Melendez will conduct two morning performances for Seton students on 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 a 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.
In 1987, he was asked by the youth of Los Angeles to be their gift to Pope John Paul II. Melendez’s performance at the event set his career into high gear. He has recorded five albums and has written the autobiography “A Gift of Hope” (1989, Harper and Row). He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including commendations from President Ronald Reagan and the state of California, as well as the first Hero Award from the NFL Alumni Association at Super Bowl XXIII in Miami. His countless media appearances and major event performances include primetime broadcasts, network specials and the World Series.
Today, Melendez travels with his brother Jose and is focused on youth, visiting elementary, junior high schools, high schools, colleges and universities. He presents himself as a victim of drugs and the harm they cause. He speaks on the dangers of drug abuse, the importance of self-esteem, and how to deal with issues such as disability awareness and cultural differences. Together with Jose, Melendez discusses today’s troubling issue of bullying. They share their personal stories of overcoming this issue through changes in attitude and discipline.
To reserve free tickets to Tony Melendez’s “A Night of Musical Inspiration and Hope,” 7 p.m. on Jan. 30 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 230 W. Galveston St. in Chandler, email Seton at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Seton Spirit Store on campus during store hours at 1150 N. Dobson Road. A free will offering will be accepted during the performance.
Tickets to the Spanish performance, 7 p.m. on Jan. 31 at St. Mary’s, can be purchased for $5 each at the parish office. For office hours and more information, contact St. Mary’s.