CREATED Jul. 8, 2013
WAUKESHA -- A Waukesha mom knows what it's like to raise a child born different. And now she's hoping to help other families in the same situation.
Katie Memmel beams with pride watching her son play the guitar. But on the day Tony was born, she knew he was different.
Memmel recalls,"I thought why isn't he unclenching his fist? Well, it's because he doesn't have one. It's his elbow."
She adds, "My husband kind of took my head and turned it towards him to shelter me. I could see in the doctor's eyes above his mask there was a problem."
Tony Memmel was born without a left forearm. Like any mom, Katie Memmel was worried and had questions.
"Would he hold his bottle, would he ever play music. would he ever play sports?" But Katie also remembers the bond at birth was instant. "The love for my baby was there immediately. There was no doubt this was going to be a loved baby!"
Memmel says most people were great when they discovered the news. But Katie Memmel admits some people she never saw again.
Memmel documents her story in her book "Five Fingers, Ten Toes." She hopes to help other parents facing similar challenges who must often deal with the stares of strangers.
Katie explains, "It was very hard to put Tony in a short sleeved shirt. He was born in December and he was in a snowsuit. April and May would roll around and people would see his arm. I knew I was going to face this."
Thankfully, Katie got support from friends, family and clergy. She and her husband raised Tony to be self-sufficient.
Tony takes pride in his Mom's book. He adds, I'm proud of her for the work that she's done. I'm proud of her for the people she's reached. Now, I go out on the road and play all kinds of settings, and meet people all over America who have read my mom's book. It's been pretty special."
Tony Memmel is proof that children born with limb differences can flourish just like him. For more information on Tony and appearances, go to his website