George Dennehy knows something about obstacles.
Orphaned as an infant because he was born with no arms, he overcame his difficulties by learning to use his feet instead. Dennehy brought his inspirational message to Litchfield middle and high school students on Oct. 1.
“So my mission was to — or my hope really was to — go there and just really show (students), you know, whatever you’re dealing with, you can overcome,” Dennehy of Richmond, Virginia, said. “You can get through it. Your struggles don’t last forever. Don’t let your challenges, don’t let your obstacles, kind of get in your way of achieving whatever goals you have, because you get one life. Make the most of it, take chances.”
Dennehy travels throughout the United States giving motivational speeches and playing music. Dennehy made a point of how he travels lightly. He flies around the country alone, so he organizes his travels such that he wouldn’t have to bring his guitar.
“I play piano and the cello,” Dennehy said, talking about learning how to play different instruments. “I’ve been playing music since I was little. I picked up the cello when I was seven years old. I started taking music lessons with a teacher who helped me figure out how to learn and how to play with my feet. From the cello I wanted to try out different instruments, and guitar was one of the instruments I wanted to try, because guitar is universally is cooler.”
Dennehy recounted instances when people asked him, “Do you miss having arms, do you want arms?”
“I was like, it doesn’t make a difference to me,” he said. “I’ve never had them. Same goes to people who’ve asked me if I’d try prosthetics. It just doesn’t appeal to me, because prosthetics are great for people who’ve lost a limb and get that limb back. But for me, having a prosthetic is having a brand-new limb I’ve never had.”
In 2017, Dennehy shared on TED Talks his experience growing up without arms, and how kids treated him in school causing him to hate himself. But he didn’t lose hope, he said.
“Just because I don’t have arms doesn’t mean that I can’t fulfill my dreams,” he said on TED Talks. “Just because I’m different, it doesn’t mean that I’m less. I realized that I have my family who are there to support me. I have my faith that gives me purpose and hope. And if I choose it, I have a fight and a will to persevere any circumstances.”