Anthony “Sully” Sullivan knew within the first minute of his daughter’s birth via emergency C-section that something was wrong. He didn’t know how he knew, but he knew. “She just looked like she was screaming for help when she came out of the womb,” he told Scary Mommy in an interview.
She spent her first days in the NICU, “with all the attachments and lights in the plexiglass box,” and then his initial gut instinct was proved true. Genetic testing confirmed his daughter, Devon, had been born with a rare genetic disorder, a complex duplication of chromosome 1 and 13. The condition was so rare, he didn’t know how it would manifest as she grew older. The geneticist couldn’t even be sure whether Devon would ever be able to walk, talk, laugh, or make eye contact. They knew only that there were no support groups—and whatever he and Devon’s mother did, they’d have to figure out on their own.
Devon is now ten years old. Sully describes her as a loving, beautiful little girl whose mission in life is to touch people. She’s had a litany of medical procedures, including heart surgery at four years old to repair a hole in her heart. She’s seen physical, occupational, speech, and behavioral therapists. She has a number of complications, including around feeding herself, around sleep, around socializing with other children, and minor behavioral issues. But she’s a fighter, said Sully, who admits to being consistently amazed by his daughter. From the way she found a way to stand up to the sense of humor that won her an award for best sense of humor in her class. “She’s this amazing engine that could,” he said.
When Devon was seven years old, she developed seizures. A neurologist put Devon on a medication to prevent the seizures. But the medicine came with a serious toll. Over a period of time—not overnight—she lost nearly 20% of her body weight, her skin lacked vibrance and color, and most alarmingly, her personality vanished. Sully describes it like a switch turning off. He returned from a trip and did not recognize his daughter.
Devon’s mother is the one who suggested CBD. Sully’s initial reaction was no. His understanding of hemp and cannabis was limited to the way it could be used to get high. But—the other option was to all but lose his daughter. Sully and Devon’s mother agreed and slowly weaned her off the medication and started her on CBD. His daughter began to return.
The CBD seemingly helped to control her seizures. It helped her sleep, helped her anxiety, and helped to keep her calm.
It was on a trip to Vermont with a friend of his that Sully visited a hemp farm and “put two and two together,” he recalled. “I walked onto this hemp farm and realized this is the farm making the medicine helping my little girl.”
At 49 years old, Sully, an entrepreneur and TV personality, who is best-known as the spokesperson for OxiClean, pivoted.
Though he knew nothing about farming, had never even attempted it, he was committed to creating a product worthy of his daughter. Though there are numerous CBD brands on the market, Sully noted “not all were good enough for my daughter.”
“Our true north on this project is Devon,” he’d said at the time.
He named the hemp farm MONTKUSH. Mont, because it is the French word for mountain and also for Vermont, where the idea for the farm originated and the farm is located. And Kush for the strain of hemp and because kush means happy in Hindi. Put together, MONTKUSH means “happy mountain.”
Once Sully found the farm, he realized he wanted to introduce this plant-based wellness alternative to the world. And not only introduce it to the world. He wanted to “peel back the industry that people knew little about,” and show how hemp is grown and CBD is extracted. His goal is to educate and take the stigma away from this plant, to show the many benefits of this plant, and to help folks understand the “difference between healthy and high.”
Sully had worked with Thom Beers, creator of “Deadliest Catch” and “Ice Road Truckers,” in the past and called to ask if he’d be interested in filming Sully’s pivot from TV personality to organic farmer. When Beers agreed, a new television series which premiered earlier this month on VICE TV, titled “Kings of Kush,” was born.
Sully and his partner learned as they went. It was exciting and nerve-wracking and they often found themselves up against Mother Nature (i.e. the wettest spring on record in 2019 and the pandemic in 2020.)
But they persisted and persevered. They received their organic certification. In the first year, they grew 66,000 plants. By year two, that number swelled to 75,000 plants. They’ve since heard how much their CBD is helping those suffering from gout, sleep issues, anxiety, PTSD, and various other ailments.
MONTKUSH started as a project to help a father find healing for his daughter. It morphed into something that is helping countless folks.
For Sully, it was the hardest thing he’s ever had to do, but for his daughter it was worth it.
“No magic happens in the comfort zone,” said Sully, and for him, for Devon, it was worth stepping way outside of his comfort zone, “to keep moving forward, even just a couple of steps a day.”