Yamaha Cares Gives a Guitar to Blind Street Musician

5/7/2010 [Guitars & Basses]

Reader of the Chicago Tribune Facilitates Donation

Chicago Guitar Donation
Juan Hernandez gets a new APX500 from Yamaha.
BUENA PARK, Calif.—Playing music in public is a tough way to make a living, but it's especially difficult if you're blind. Juan Hernandez, just one of 200 musicians licensed by the Chicago Transit Authority to perform in subway stations, has been performing Spanish standards and popular songs underground since 2004. He also plays in a band at night and has dreams of opening a newspaper stand some day.

His day job as a street musician is fulfilling, because it lets him do something he loves, but times can be difficult beneath the streets. Hernandez, born with glaucoma and unable to see anything other than shadows, has had his money, an iPod and a cell phone stolen from him. In 2008, a thief stole his guitar, but police traced it to a pawnshop and he got it back. But the latest theft yielded no clues. Hernandez thought about giving up, but he decided to return to the tunnels with a backup guitar.

After the Chicago Tribune featured Hernandez in an article, a reader and fellow musician reached out to Yamaha Cares, which was happy to give Hernandez a new guitar. Many people offered to help Hernandez after the article appeared, but he chose to receive a new Yamaha APX500 acoustic-electric model, with a case, which was delivered by Yamaha District Manager Don Smith.

"On behalf of myself and my family, I thank Yamaha and its workers from the bottom of my heart because they have given me a chance to keep playing music and working for a long, long time, hopefully," said Hernandez.

Yamaha Cares is active in fundraising efforts for many other Southern California programs, including the Special Olympics, college music scholarships, The Boys and Girls Club, The Susan G. Komen Foundation, American Cancer Society, March of Dimes, Make a Wish Foundation, Families of Camp Pendelton, Orange County Food Bank and Toys For Tots, to name just a few.

For more information on Yamaha Cares, visit www.yamaha.com/yamahacares, or write Yamaha Corporation of America, P.O. Box 6600, Buena Park, CA 90622; telephone (714) 522-9011; or e-mail infostation@yamaha.com.

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