By Clint Demeritt
Working for a nonprofit can sometimes feel like having your hands tied, but musician George Dennehy shows what you can do with some dedication, creativity and no arms at all.
Opening the DMA Nonprofit Federation’s conference in Chicago, Aug. 28 to 30, Dennehy will be talking about his inspirational journey and sharing his infectious optimism. As a musician born without arms, Dennehy “sings and plays music from his heart using his feet,” and delights in using his story as an example of how he believes every individual has a purpose and that absolutely anything is possible.
“I want to encourage you to remember that you were created uniquely and that your story is one that has never been and that will never be again. Your story is totally and completely unique,” Dennehy wrote on his blog. “Don’t ever let the burdens of the world get in the way of that. Be strong. Allow your story to be written and then find the courage to tell it!”
Dennehy discovered his passion for music when he was 8 and his father signed him up for cello lessons just like George’s older siblings, according to a DOGOnews article about him. So his music teacher learned how to play the cello with her feet so she could pass that knowledge on to Dennehy.
Since the cello isn’t considered the coolest instrument, Dennehy decided to pick up the piano and guitar during middle school. The instruments became his two favorites, and he soon began uploading his musical performances to YouTube. No one can accuse Dennehy of not having a sense of humor, as he goes by ThatArmlessGuy on his channel.
After Dennehy posted a video of his cover of the Goo Goo Dolls song “Iris,” the video went viral. He was then invited on stage during Musikfest 2012 to play the song with the Goo Goo Dolls themselves in front of 7,000 people. Dennehy was so popular he was invited back in 2013 as a solo act. The confidence boost led Dennehy to pursue his music career with new fervor and become a motivational speaker to share his story.
Since then Dennehy has shared the stage with big names such as Jeremy Camp, Audio Adrenaline, Hillsong United, Jesus Culture, Colton Dixon, MercyMe, The Digital Age, Jamie Grace, For King and Country and many more.
Dennehy likes to share not only his musical journey, but also his journey from when he was adopted from a Romanian orphanage when he was 1. After church one day, Dennehy’s parents were meditating on a sermon on the Book of James that they found particularly powerful and began to consider adopting a child, even though they already had three biological children.
After seeing a newsletter featuring a picture of George, they felt they were destined to welcome him into the Dennehy family. Since then the Dennehys have adopted eight more children from around the world (some with disabilities), swelling the large, loving family to 12 children.
“Because a lot of our children are different, it helps take away their insecurity of being different,” Sharon, George’s mother, said in a Faith article.
Make your plans now to join George and hundreds of fundraising and marketing professionals at the 2017 Chicago Nonprofit Conference, a two-day event where you can exchange innovative marketing and fundraising ideas, generate insightful solutions and think creatively to help make your relationship with your donors even stronger.
This conference will be the platform for improving public awareness of and receptivity to direct and interactive market-driven philanthropy. You’ll also hear case studies from your colleagues which will offer a more realistic view of the issues, challenges and successes you face every day.