When Ahmed Shareef was seven years old, he was walking home from school in Baghdad when an explosion blew off half his right arm and burned his eyes, blinding him. After the accident, Ahmed was brought to the United States for a series of medical procedures by Elissa Montanti, who runs the Global Medical Relief Fund, a nonprofit based in Staten Island that helps disabled children around the world.
Now at 21, Ahmed is still based out of Staten Island where he is the band leader of Blind Ambition which gigs at the local bar Liedy’s. The band plays original music and classic rock covers. Ahmed sings and plays the keyboard and melodica (a portable wind instrument). The bar’s regulars appreciate Ahmed’s music and also admire his grit. “He’s just a real inspiration,” says bandmate Bill Moser. “My kid starts bitching about stuff, I say: ‘Shut up. You have an arm, you know, and you can see it.’