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Guitarist to perform with feet at Rudder

Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012

Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2012 02:09

Tony Meléndez

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Guitarist, singer and songwriter Tony Meléndez’s story is one of overcoming an obstacle by learning to play the guitar with his feet. He is known around the world and continues to inspire the people he encounters.

The Latin Economic and Business Association at Texas A&M will be presenting the music prodigy as one of their annual guest speakers and performers Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Rudder Theater Complex.

LEBA is an association that aims to foster the desire of becoming an entrepreneur among its members by networking, community service and leadership activities. The group is hoping to inspire students through Meléndez’ story.

Alberto Sada, senior agricultural economics major and president of LEBA, is in charge of choosing and contacting guest speakers for the organization.

“We worked hard and emailed and made lots of phone calls trying to get in touch with [Meléndez]. He met his wife in College Station so this is a special place to him,” Sada said.

Meléndez, a Nicaraguan-American, was born with no arms due to a birth defect. As well as a guitar player, Meléndez is a composer and a singer.

“In between songs he is a really good motivational speaker, as well,” Sada said. “It’s like a hybrid talk and concert. He will have his band with him too, so it’s going to be pretty fun.”

Meléndez has compiled a long list of achievements over the years. He has traveled all over the world and made numerous TV appearances on shows such as “The Today Show,” “Good Morning America,” “Geraldo,” “CBS This Morning,” “The Late Show with Arsenio Hall,” “700 Club,” “Robert Schuller” and prime-time network specials. He sang the national anthem at the World Series in 1989, he performed for the pope four times and has made appearances in numerous newspapers and magazine articles around the world.

“This guy is a role model,” said Javier Garcia, senior industrial distributions major. “He has gotten really far with the opportunities that life gave him.”

Edmundo Rodriguez, a marketing graduate student, is in charge of publicizing the event for LEBA.

“No challenge is too difficult to overcome if you’re really willing to put in enough effort to overcome it,” Rodriguez said. “I am excited to see how well he can play with his feet, but also to see how this type of event can bring people together from different nationalities and cultures. LEBA has put a lot of effort into getting him to visit A&M and I hope students get a lot out of it.”

The organization said it’s looking forward to Meléndez’ presentation, as his story highlights the very kind of determination and leadership that LEBA aims to instill in its members.

“I think this event is a great inspirational story for everyone that gets a chance to see him,” Rodriguez said. “Especially considering how he overcame his disability.”

It is the group’s goal to reach a variety of students with this program, regardless of major or nationality.

“This will be a good opportunity for one reason,” Sada said. “This guy was born armless and is playing with his feet. He has done everything in life with his feet: he drives, plays, eats. It’s very motivational to see someone that has no arms to get so far in his life.”

Tickets to see Tony Meléndez can be purchased with a LEBA officer or at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church for $10, or at the door for $15.

 

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