Keyboard player Todd Waites encouraged children at Wilder Elementary to believe in themselves rather than allowing others to determine their self-worth.
At 14 years of age, Todd Waites lost his arm and entire shoulder to bone cancer, followed by 18 months of rigorous chemotherapy. He knows what it is like to be different. He knows what it is like to be bullied, ridiculed, and made to feel less. Yet, he realized the power of believing in himself rather than allowing others to determine his capability. He chased his life-long dream of becoming a keyboard player and through hard work and dedication, that dream came true. Waites toured the U.S. and beyond for years, playing rock concerts with world-class musicians. He has been featured in magazines, radio, television, motivational books and recordings. He is respected for his talent and loved for his positive attitude.
In 2012, Waites left the touring band scene to share his story with school-aged children. Recently, children at Wilder, Pointview and McVay elementary schools were privileged to hear his story in True Rockstars Don’t Hate, a fun and inspirational program that focuses on the messages of overcoming obstacles, gaining self-esteem, being kind and pursuing dreams. (Learn more at www.truerockstarsdonthate.com.)
Waites’ performances in the Westerville School District were made possible through the generous sponsorship of Trio Orthodontics and Westerville Pediatric Dental, who said they believe in giving back to the communities that support them. “We see firsthand how a child’s self-esteem and self-worth can improve with healthy smile,” said Trio’s Dr. Dale Anne Featheringham. “Most of all, we believe sharing a smile is one of the best ways to spread kindness to others.”
Waites’ assembly at Wilder on September 21 coincided perfectly with their celebration of United Nations’ International Peace Day. “At Wilder, we recognize the importance of creating peaceful relationships across the globe, while also talking to our students about our own diverse community and, specifically, being a kind friend,” said Principal Victoria Hazlett. This year’s international theme was Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All.