Actor, singer, author, producer
Visual impairment: Blind due to oxygen oversupply during incubation at birth
Born: 27 March 1947 in Boston, Massachusetts, USA
"Any negative can be turned into positive." This is one of the many "Sullivan's Rules". As an actor, singer, author, producer and motivational speaker, he empowers those around him with his lifelong commitment to achieve.
Born prematurely, Tom was administered an over dose of oxygen while in the incubator. Tom lost his eyesight. But, he never allowed blindness to restrict his way of life.
He and his father, Porky Sullivan, invented "Sullivan's Rules" in which he could play baseball with the neighbourhood boys without having to see the ball. From then on, "Sullivan's Rules" became the rules to play by in the sighted world.
According to Tom, the 'inconvenience' of being blind has never kept him from doing what he loves. Having spent the early part of his career pursuing his ambition as a singer and composer, Tom started out playing the piano at vacation resorts. His career heightened as he appeared on The Tonight Show and various other shows around the country. One highlight of his musical career was when he sang The Star Spangled Banner at the 1976 Super Bowl. Although music was his primary focus, Tom's limitless energy and ambition led him to pursue acting, writing books and producing TV shows.
In 1975, Tom's career as an author took off with his autobiography, If You Could See What I Hear, co-written by Derek Gill. This best-seller was about Tom's childhood in Boston and his experiences.
His next book, Adventure in Darkness, was a moving account of his school days, first at the Perkins Institute for the Blind, through his college years at Providence College, then at Harvard. It was also a love story about Tom and his wife, Patty, and the beginning of a family that is the most cherished part of his life. If You Could See What I Hear also became a major motion picture in 1982. Tom also played a significant role as a composer and a performer for the film's original soundtrack.
Tom went on to write Common Sense, a children's book, and You Are Special, a collection of stories that celebrate the uniqueness of individuals regardless of handicap, disadvantage or social label. His next best seller was The Leading Lady, Dinah's Story. Co-authored with Betty White, this book talks about the unique relationship between Dinah, Tom's cross-country partner and guide dog, and the people whose lives she changed. Special Parent and Special Child were his next books, narrating life experiences of parents who raise children with special needs. His latest book Seeing Lessons: 14 Life Secrets I've Learned Along the Way has been recognized and rewarded by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society's Books for a Better Life.
As a competitive athlete, Tom has been an excellent golfer and cross-country runner of twelve years. "The remarkable truth that running has taught me is that I am delighted to be blind. I am happy about it. I've enjoyed a world of senses that most people will not take the time to appreciate, and some my greatest sensory experiences have happened while running." Tom also snow skis, shoots mid 80 golf, runs in marathons and triathlons, water skis and occasionally bungee jumps.
Today, Tom is invited by many companies and organizations for motivational speaking sessions to share his wealth of experience and commitment. After Helen Keller, Tom the only recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from The American Foundation for the Blind. Residing in Denver, Colorado, Tom continues to work and live by "Sullivan's Rules". He embeds hope and prospect into countless number of people's lives with his story of personal triumph.