Tom Sullivan’s childhood was like that of a typical boy who grew up in Boston, characterized by adventures with neighborhood friends, squabbles with siblings, and idolization of the Red Sox. There was one key difference however that made Sullivan’s childhood unique: his blindness. Losing his sight due to a premature birth, Sullivan went to the Perkins Skills for the Blind, while enduring the insecurities and children’s ridicule that comes from being different. Still, Sullivan didn’t let the negativity of his disability dictate his life. As he notes, “handicaps are inconveniences, and everyone has one. I believe that disadvantages can be turned into advantages.”
Using his blindness as a source of motivation, Sullivan drove himself to overachieve at everything he did, with remarkable results. After stints at Providence College and Harvard, Sullivan turned a passion for music into a fruitful career, marked by countless shows in resorts around the country and a memorable performance of The Star Spangled Banner during Super Bowl X. His success isn’t restricted to a single field however, as evidenced by an acting career that encompassed numerous appearances on mainstream television programs (including M.A.S.H. and Fame) and earned him two Emmy nominations. He has also found success in the world of letters, co-authoring several fiction and non-fiction works, most notably his autobiography If You Could See What I Hear. Currently, Sullivan works as a highly-regarded motivational speaker.
In addition to being an entertainer, a writer, and a family man, Tom Sullivan is an ardent animal lover. It’s a fact that becomes quite plain once you hear him talk about his guide dog, Edison. “There’s no question that Edison brings me the greatest gift that a friend can give to a blind person: the freedom to choose what I want to do with every day of my life. We’re interdependent and that makes the love we share a perfect bonding of man and animal.” His love for animals is further exhibited in The Leading Lady: Dinah’s Story, a personal account co-written by friend/actress Betty White about Sullivan’s former guide dog Dinah. Despite a hectic schedule, Sullivan has also found time to involve himself with the Morris Animal Foundation, a provider of animal health studies.
Unsurprisingly, Sullivan’s latest project involves animals. Entitled Together, Sullivan’s newest novel focuses on teenager Brendan McCarthy and his attempts to deal with his blindness after a mountain climbing accident. With the help of a guide dog named Nelson, Brendan discovers that there’s much more to life than sight and learns to live again. The concept for the story came about with an occurrence. As Sullivan recalls, “It occurred to me that I have always been blind, and that it must be harder in a way to lose your sight.” From then on, the idea for Together took shape and with help from Betty White, emerged into a novel. Like Sullivan’s previous works, Together is a gripping tale that blends profound insights with sheer heart, a pleasurable read for any audience.