Tony Salizar is a born musician. “He loves playing music,” says his mother, Emily. 

Being sight impaired is not an obstacle on stage, and neither is the autism which makes Tony’s verbal communication a struggle. “When speaking, it’s hard for him to get things across,” explains Emily. “There is a delay and he gets nervous. But when he sings, there’s no impairment.”

Tony is lead singer and pianist in a 16-member special needs band, and has turned down offers to play with mainstream musicians. “Being part of the special needs music group makes him feel like he fits in,” says his mother. “And no one is going to judge him when they are up on the stage.”

Tony plays music by ear and knows 300 songs, with some in Spanish—including Zacatecas and Durango mariachi songs. Making his music videos was Tony’s dream come true, an experience that elevated his self-esteem and created new friendships and a greater sense of belonging.  “Everybody is a Star is a community,” says Emily. “I think of as family. They have been incredible with Tony, every single one of them. It is priceless what the experience has done for me and for my son—now everybody out there can see what I see within my own child.

Learn more about Everybody is a Star Foundation.