Candida Sullivan is a presence. She is a strong, happy woman who beams with positive energy. She has overcome heartache, rejection and yes, bullying, to become a bestselling author of not only one but two books.
Sullivan has lived in the Midway community in Claiborne County for 14 years now, but she was raised in Frakes, Kentucky — just over the line in Bell County. Sullivan was born with Amniotic Band Syndrome, which generally causes death in babies before they are ever born. She says she knows what a blessing it is to have survived, and she wants to show the world that her scars are not a punishment. Instead, they are a wonderful expression exemplifying God’s love and mercy for her life.
Her parents never led her to believe she had a “problem,” although her hands and feet are somewhat different from others’.
“They believed in me when I didn’t have the strength to believe in myself. Through it all they never gave up on me,” Sullivan said. “They encourage, support, and help me throughout every step of this journey.”
Her parents, she said, taught her to always find the best in every situation. Her faith has helped to keep her strong.
“The highlight of my week is going to church on Sunday, where my dad is the pastor, and then spending the day with my family in Frakes,” she said.
Sullivan wrote two books about her challenges — one for adults and one geared toward children. “Underneath the Scars” is her autobiography, her story of courage in the face of adversity. “Zippy and the Stripes of Courage” is one many children in the area are learning to love.
“I think everyone can relate to Zippy in some way. We’ve all felt different at times and had to deal with cruelty from others. However, Zippy teaches us how to treat others the way we want to be treated. That’s so important and the message I want to convey to children and adults alike,” she said. “The only way to truly stop bullying is with kindness. It’s contagious.”
It seems as though Zippy is everywhere these days, and Sullivan stays busy promoting her book so children can learn from it.
“I have promoted Zippy more because I want to make a difference and help these children,” she said, adding that she’s done numerous school visits in several different states and counties.
The children, she said, all fall in love with Zippy.
“I love watching their expressions change and I believe their thoughts and feelings. Sometimes God blesses me to see it touch someone in a wonderful way. Not only for the children who are bullied, but also the bullies,” she said. “When you see it touch one of the biggest bullies in the school, it’s amazing. One child said Zippy gave him the strength and courage to face his own problems. That’s priceless.”
Sullivan’s books, published by ShadeTree Publishing, are both available at local booksellers and on Amazon.com. She is enjoying their popularity, but even more, she’s enjoying the positive ways both books are touching lives.
“Every time I receive a response from someone telling me my books have changed their lives in some way, I’m awed and so humbled. The outpouring of support has been amazing. I never dreamed so many would read my books and then be touched by my story. It just shows me that God is in control of it all. He has blessed them to be successful — I owe it all to Him,” she said.
Her books have appeared on the Best Seller’s list, received a 5-star Reader’s Favorite Review, and touched numerous lives.
“I can honestly say God has made the reality of it all even better than my dreams,” she said. “Just when I think it can’t possibly get any better, it does.”
Sullivan lives in Midway with her husband Shannon and their two sons, Cayden and Jordon.
“My children have watched me dream and witnessed the heartache and joy,” she said. “They’ve seen me cry — both tears of sadness and joy. They’ve watched me cry over the rejection letters and then experienced my joy when I held my books for the first time. I think this process has truly taught them that dreams do come true.”