Todd Waites is an arm amputee, 2 time cancer survivor, and a keyboardist that has toured all over the U.S. and beyond as a musician. He has been featured in many news outlets, TV/Radio interviews, national magazines, is a main character in a motivational book, and appears on several CD's and a live DVD distributed internationally. He helped David Bryan (keyboardist for Bon Jovi) when he suffered a finger injury with tips on how to play without that finger, and has gained the respect of famous musicians and celebrities around the world. Respected for his awesome talent. Loved for his positive attitude.
Losing his arm as a teenager, Todd himself knows what it is like to be on the receiving end of bullying, ridicule, and to have low self esteem. But also as someone who had big dreams...specifically the life-long dream of playing keyboards in rock bands...he fully knows the value of overcoming obstacles and chasing dreams. He knows that no matter what anyone else says, nobody else gets to decide what you are capable of doing unless you let them.
He could no longer ignore the constant news related to the devastating effects of bullying, knowing that the victims (and the bullies) can achieve great things if put on the right path. Knowing that people who have been ridiculed in big or small ways give up on their dreams unnecessarily. That many people who are different feel they do not matter. Knowing that things need to change.
In 2013 Todd left touring in bands to help K-12 students via school assemblies. Hundreds of schools, tens of thousands of kids later, Todd is now one of the nations leading children and youth speakers. The impact has been much greater than ever imagined. Kids are listening. Kids are being changed. Kids are learning that regardless of who they are, what obstacles they face, and what anybody else tells them…EVERYONE MATTERS AND CAN ACHIEVE GREATNESS.
Bringing a keyboard to every event, Todd "sprinkles" music into his presentation as he talks about the very valuable lessons he learned in his own journey of overcoming obstacles, achieving and maintaining a positive self-image, the effects of bullying short and long term, and that being “different” is a blessing. This message is shared with personal stories incorporating comedy, inspiration, and sometimes even a few tears. But make no mistake...the assemblies are not a downer but very much the opposite. They are upbeat, positive, and are a blast!!
Some of the topics covered are:
Gaining self esteem and pursuing dreams
Anti-drugs (depending on age group)
Anti-suicide (depending on age group)
Todd can do multiple speaking engagements/assemblies in the same day and modifies his message to fit each age group.