Young violinist inspires with more than music

Lucy McGuire spends her days inspiring those around her – whether she realizes it or not.

Adopted at age four, Lucy was born in China without a right hand. Now in Nashville, Tennessee, she’s learning, growing and thriving under the nurturing care of her family and many others who love her.

Finding home

More than two years before they met Lucy, John and Elizabeth McGuire, along with their biological son, felt a yearning to grow their family.

“We started researching adoption and it just became a calling. I fell in love with the idea of providing a home for a child who needed one. I very much think that was God leaning on me,” shares Elizabeth.

John says, “I can recall the agency sending us a picture and a description of Lucy, and it really didn’t take much more than that. We kind of knew that this girl was specifically calling us to her and her to us.”

After six months of transition, Lucy spoke near-fluent English and began attending preschool at her church. 

“As members of West End United Methodist Church, we had several families there who had also adopted at some point and they were enormously helpful in supporting us, in sharing their story with us, letting us know that they would be there for us if we needed them,” Elizabeth says. “[Church] was an important place for Lucy to feel safe.”

Overcoming challenges

John’s creativity has been key in finding adaptations for Lucy, ensuring her physical disability is not a limitation. Elizabeth mentions, “He’s really been someone who can find solutions for his daughter, which I think gives him great joy.”

Lucy radiates an inner determination, a spark that makes her seemingly fearless, and she’s quick to prove that she’s no different than any other child.

When children ask what happened to her hand, Lucy responds, “A shark bit it off last week!” She then shows them she’s perfectly fine by participating in activities ranging from skiing, kayaking and archery to bike riding, cartwheeling and swimming.

“It’s not going to stop her!” – Elizabeth Pagano McGuire

Making music

Most days, you’ll find Lucy practicing violin. Her teacher, Toni Ferguson, says, “I look forward to [her lesson] every week. She’s a bright spot!”

A local violin shop owner and other partners crafted an apparatus to help Lucy hold a bow so that she could chase her dream of becoming a violinist. It’s been a process of trial and error to find the right “bow aid,” a journey that is becoming easier with the help of the Wond’ry, a subsidiary of Vanderbilt University’s engineering school. Thanks to the research and 3D-printing abilities of Vanderbilt student Ryan Joyce, a new, more articulated prosthetic will help Lucy achieve a more organic playing style.

Accomplishing it all

With the resilience and self-motivation of someone beyond her years, there’s no way to predict what might be next on Lucy’s adventure-filled to-do list. Two things are certain: She’ll be able to accomplish anything and we’ll continue to cheer her on.

Laura Buchanan works for UMC.org at United Methodist Communications. Contact her by email.

This story was published on April 12, 2022.