My name is Candida Sullivan and I was born with a rare condition called Amniotic Band Syndrome (ABS). ABS affected my hands, arm and foot. When I was a little girl, I prayed every night for God to heal me, and take away my scars. It was so hard for me to understand why my prayers weren’t answered. Learning to accept my scars and embrace my hardships was especially difficult. But when I did, something wonderful happened—they no longer had any control over me nor caused me pain. The burdens were lifted and my life transformed. The day I accepted it all, my heartaches were turned into blessings.
It was a beautiful, awakening moment that encouraged me to help others and share my story of triumph. During my hardships, I recorded my pain and suffering. As it filled the pages it was released from my heart. Reading my story opened my eyes and gave me a new perspective on life. All of my days, I had grieved for the parts of my body that were missing or scarred and wasn’t thankful for my life.
When I read my words and considered how they had helped me, the desire to share them with anyone and everyone emerged. So I took the emotions and the new perspective I had gained, and penned books. My main focus was children. I wanted to create a character that would jump into their heart and help them with their own struggles. Zippy is a zebra without black stripes. While he is different from the other zebras, still he doesn’t have a condition that any child will actually have. I never wanted to create a character that focuses on one condition or would have the potential to make any child feel bad or singled out. Zippy encourages us all to celebrate our differences and treat others the way we want to be treated.
I have been blessed with three published books, and the opportunity to be the 2013 spokesperson for the Children’s Reading Foundation of Appalachia, Kentucky.
“Zippy and the Stripes of Courage” is a story about how Zippy the zebra came to accept himself for who he is. It teaches children to celebrate one another’s differences and to treat others as they themselves want to be treated. It also shows children how to deal with bullying.
“Zippy’s Big Difference” is a story about how Zippy the zebra came to accept that which makes him different from others. It deals with emotional struggles facing children today with disabilities and tackles some of the tough spiritual questions they have.
“Underneath the Scars” is a journey of emotional and spiritual healing associated with physical deformities. You will laugh, cry, and reflect as Candida shares her story and the woman underneath her scars.
When I go into schools, I try to address the issues many children are afraid to mention about differences, bullying, and embracing our circumstances. It is hard sometimes to share so much of my life with others, but it is our own personal stories that touch and inspire. I remember the horrid feeling of being bullied and it is my goal to prevent it, stop it, and help those affected by it. I have a new Zippy book titled “Zippy’s Club” that will be released next year about bullying.
All I wanted was to be unscarred, but God had greater plans for me. I’m so thankful that He created me uniquely for my purpose and helped me learn to celebrate my differences. I may not be able to change the world, but I’d like to leave my handprints all over it.