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Cover of the Music Has Legs book shows Juan's hand on the end of a guitar standing against a brick wall.


David Haznaw & Marlene Byrne

Based on the true story of Juan Manuel Pineda, an orphan whose journey began on the streets of El Salvador. Juan was born into an impoverished family, with a severely cleft palate, in a country where children born with such conditions are commonly ostracized. As a young boy, he lost both his legs in a house fire, and soon after, his mother, who had raised him as a single parent, died. Eventually, Juan came to Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos, a home for orphaned and vulnerable children in El Salvador, where he not only received shelter, food and safety, but an education, unconditional love and an opportunity to let his musical talents bloom. After being accepted to Shriners Hospital in Chicago for treatment of his cleft palate, Juan’s musical talent was uncovered, and he would step into the spotlight to share his music and story with the world.

About the Authors

Marlene Byrne and David Haznaw met 25 years ago, working in advertising. Both writers by trade, they worked on crafting headlines and stories for clients. Marlene would go on to become CEO of Celtic Chicago, an ad agency. David would become a writer and producer of a production company and director of a video about Juan during his concert performance.


After 35 years in advertising, the two decided to become writing partners and worked together to craft the story of Juan’s journey. "Music Has Legs" is a wonderful, true story that changed both Marlene and David’s lives. We hope it will touch yours as well.

David Haznaw

Head shot of author David Haznaw.

David is a full-time writer/author, amateur musician and sports lover. He loves the craft of storytelling and writes in a way that makes the reader imagine what’s going on in the mind of the main character. He has written and produced video content for clients for over 25 years. 


A native Midwesterner, David’s first job after graduating with a degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin was as a county beat reporter for The Watertown Daily Times.


In 2019, David published a book titled “A Year in Words” crafted from his commitment to writing his thoughts every day for a year. 


He now lives in suburban Milwaukee with his wife, Joan, and their two children, Kate and Will.

Marlene Byrne

Marlene has been writing her entire life for both fun and work in her career in advertising. She published five children’s books under the Project Play umbrella. She has written multiple books for clients and recently wrote a book for NPH about Father William Wasson, the priest who founded Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos, titled “Save the World, Start with the Children.”


Professionally, Marlene is the CEO of Celtic Chicago, a full-service, advertising agency. She has balanced motherhood, career, and service throughout her life. Her charity work led her to volunteer for NPH USA, where she would accept the opportunity to care for Juan Manuel Pineda. 


Marlene lives in Chicago with her husband Brian, their children, Samuel, Matthew, and Maggie, and their dog, Riley.

Head shot of author Marlene Byrne

Juan's Story


About Juan

Juan Manuel Pineda was born in El Salvador with a cleft palate and dental deformities. When he was three, a fire in his home caused third-degree burns and the subsequent amputation of both legs at the hip. At nine years old, Juan’s mother died of an ulcer leaving him homeless and alone. After a turbulent foster situation, Juan was brought to Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH) orphanage in El Salvador, where he began to learn music.

Through an opportunity to perform in an NPH music troupe that was touring the States, Juan was noticed in Chicago by a group of physicians from Shriners Hospital. They were so amazed by his story that they committed all their resources to finding a way to correct his medical problems.

In the meantime, Juan's musical talents were discovered and his songs were professionally produced into a CD entitled “The Sound of Gratitude”. This led to a stage performance in front of a sold-out audience who had heard his story through various media outlets and were moved to support his dream. Juan dedicated the proceeds from this concert to the estimated 2,000 to 4,000 children and adults, being treated at St. Damien's Hospital, who endured amputations as a result of the 2010 Haitian earthquake.

"Music Has Legs" is a book that tells Juan's triumphant story and proves that overcoming adversity, no matter how large, is possible.

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