Ten-year-old Topher (short for Christopher) Sullivan loves history and loves to read. When his grandma, Cecelia Sullivan, gave him Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims by Rush Limbaugh, it prompted him to visit Limbaugh’s website. Neil Sullivan, Topher’s dad, had heard that Limbaugh’s website was offering free books. Since Topher was enjoying the one Grandma Sullivan had given him, he thought it would be great to continue the series.
According to Neil, Rush Limbaugh wrote the Rush Revere series because of his love of history. Paul Revere was always his favorite historical character.
Topher’s mom, Lynette Sullivan, was impressed with the Rush Revere series.
“He (Topher) was able to pull facts he read from his school lessons and contribute knowledge and information to our discussions,” said Lynette.
“The historical content was accurate and concise,” added Topher. “The writing really makes you feel like you are there.”
Topher also found two challenges on Limbaugh’s website. He decided he wanted to enter one of them – “Happy July 4th 2020 Liberty Fans” – singing the first four lines of the Star Spangled Banner. The contest was open to those 18 years old and younger.
Since he had been playing the piano a little over a year, he decided to learn to play the Star Spangled Banner on the piano and sing along.
Grandma Sullivan was able to help again. She is a musician and used her skills to help Topher find an arrangement of the song that would be easy for him to learn.
“I am very proud of him,” said Grandma Sullivan. “It was his idea to do this. He’s got the initiative and enthusiasm. That’s what I’m so proud of.”
“She was one of his biggest supporters to help him get his submission in,” said Lynette. “She encouraged him to really address the patriotism in the song.”
Topher practiced daily for about two weeks to get ready to shoot the video.
When he made the video he was wearing a red, white and blue striped T-shirt and large glasses, and a patriotic top hat in the style of Uncle Sam. Since one of the main characters in Limbaugh’s Rush Revere series is Liberty, a magical time traveling talking horse, he decided to imitate Liberty for his introduction: “Hel-l-l-o-o-o Liberty fans…” with the “Hello” sounding like a horse’s whinny.
When asked what he felt while making the final video, Topher said, “I felt a bit sick. It was like butterflies in my stomach.”
The entry deadline for the contest was Aug. 31, but the Sullivan’s submitted the video on the Fourth of July.
“We thought that would be appropriate for its topic,” explained Neil.
On Sept. 2, the Sullivan family received an email from Sofia at Rush Revere Headquarters inviting them to participate in a “Zoom” phone call the next day. During that call, they learned there were thousands of entries and that Topher had placed third in the contest.
Shortly after receiving the announcement, Topher received his prizes in the mail. They included a sound link portable speaker, a $25 gift card, a complete audio set of the Rush Revere series, two insulated mugs, a plush Liberty stuffed animal, a winner’s certificate, a poster of Liberty, a bookmark, and a letter of congratulations from Rush and Kathryn Limbaugh.
The video of Topher playing and singing the Star Spangled Banner is online for public viewing at https://youtu.be/gutgjQogyw0.
The most important thing is that family and friends are so very proud of Topher’s accomplishment.
Lynette’s mom, Margaret DiMascio, stated, “Topher is very gifted. He likes a challenge and he is very good at what he does.”
As the Sullivan family are regular visitors to the Allen F. Pierce Library in Troy, the staff there were also very proud of Topher and sent him a letter written by Lynn Rogers, assistant librarian that read, “I am so impressed that you ‘nailed’ the video. The piano was played perfectly. You sang the anthem well. That ‘Neigh’ was better than I could do. Liberty would be happy.”
She continued, “Of course he would be happier if you brought him an apple too. It is so necessary for our schools to bring back American history and government. Your family is doing a good job providing learning and skills for the future. We are all proud of you, here, at the library.”