Inspired Family: The Sullivan’s Lesson in Compassion

Skylar and No Kid Hungry

Two years ago, when I was still doing the radio show, “What’s Your Story?” Michelle emailed me an incredible article on bullying.  The fact that I was not only seeking out guests for the show, but I also worked with teens doing life coaching and leadership training, I realized right away that Ty was someone I needed to know.  Why, you may ask?  Because through social media and blogging, Ty can pour out his whole heart and soul and make you want to be on his team.  Ty was built to motivate people to be better and do better.  It has been two years since my interview with him, and although we have never met in person, he has a magical ability to make people feel as if he knows their hearts; he also lovingly and often hilariously invites you to see into his.

One of the most important parts of Ty’s heart is his beautiful, funny and heartbreakingly honest daughter, Skylar.  I look forward to reading about her adventures and deep thoughts.  She inspires me to want to be of service, all the time.  When she was 3, she overheard Ty and his wife, Kathy, talking about people who go hungry.  She decided this was ridiculous and that she needed to do something about it…3 years old I tell you.  She had Ty film her, put her on You Tube, and she asked the world to help feed the hungry.  How does this happen?  How do we raise kids who think more of others than themselves, who understand what social justice, truly is?  To this end, I ask Ty if he and his wife and Skylar would be our Inspired Family this month.  Usually I try to write little paragraphs from the questions I get, but I am going to let you hear it all, in Ty’s words; then you will also get a feel for why he has become such an important friend.  Enjoy…

Who is in the family?

For this family unit we have (and not just in size order) Myself, Ty Sullivan, followed by Kathy Scotto Sullivan and then comes our combo package called Skylar Dawn, 5 years of energy and care from Mom and Dad.

How would you describe your family?

Like all American families, we are “functionally dysfunctional”. We have our problems like everyone else and do the best we can to navigate through the rough spots. But what we always maintain is a sense of humor. OK, it doesn’t always pan out that a good smirk will cure everything, but we try to find the silver lining in our family playbook.

What is your family’s Mission/brand?

We believe in peace and helping others at Casa De Sullivan, so I can safely say the following is our brand statement and it’s something I wrote, stand by and remind our family of everyday here: “We are all in this humans’ race together and it’s our job to make sure we all cross the finish line as one.”

Just today I asked Skylar, for the sake of this article, why it is that we do things for a group like Share Our Strengths #NoKidHungry program. She said, “Because we have to put food on plates of children when their parents can’t, so they can grow and think stronger!” That’s a mouthful for a 5 year old. Ever since she single handedly raised $1,200 with a lemonade stand for that cause she has been hooked on philanthropy. It’s part of the Sullivan heritage…To give back and move forward.  After other kids saw what she was doing, they all came running like the Little Rascals to help. 

Skylar’s next idea is to have all the kids in the community come together for a “massive lemonade stand and sell old toys” day.  I’m seeing a $3,000+ day in the works here…

Over the last year we raised over $70,000 for Sandy Relief with a concert we organized, a similar event for a family who lost their son in the Newtown shootings (originally from our neighborhood) as well as #NoKidHungry.

What’s one thing that you think really helps to hold your family together?

Therapy!  Seriously. My wife and I were going through a very difficult time the last few years and were each mentally checked out with our bags at the concierge desk in our minds. But we knew there had to be another option. There is always a way.  So, after a couple of years of back and forth on the idea of going, we did.  Now, we have better communication, we hear and see each other and we can be more centered for our daughter. The other thing is laughter and song. We are a family that likes to sing, have fun and get creative. Kathy is a painter and baker so that translates to Skylar being very artistic. I am a former actor/comedian/singer, so music and characters flow through and from Skylar as easy as her own breath.  So, this all comes down to being present, laughter and communication.

Do you have any advice for other families?

Surround yourself with a solid community of people. We as parents cannot do it alone. Whether you’re a single parent or a couple, find the thread that binds a community or BE THAT THREAD.  Start a Yahoo parents’ group, find a healthy activity that the family can do as one and other families are doing as well. Be the nexus of community if there are smaller offshoots of groups and bring them together.

What’s one last thought you’d like to leave people with?

Like any great brand or company (and the family is the biggest branded business on God’s little green Earth) you need your A -List charity that you work for to make the world a better place.  Here at our house (because of me) we help out with several that pop up but the one we always rally behind is the #NoKidHungry campaign. Find the charity you are all passionate about and go and be the change!  Can’t think of one?  Ask your child(ren). They know what needs to be done. Let their pure hearts fuel yours if you stray from what we must do to make this world a better place.

So, do you love the Sullivan family now too?  Are you inspired?  Let us know what charities your family is or is becoming involved in!  For more information on #NoKidHungry, check out their Facebook page.

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