For Tom Pado, life has always been about challenges. As a kid in Gary, Indiana, his family struggled. Tom also struggled in school, and it took him years before he learned to read. But he was a curious little guy, always tinkering (and nearly blowing up the house on multiple occasions). Like many of us, he ran into many roadblocks and, yet, became a submariner in the U. S. Navy. He earned multiple degrees, and eventually, built state-of-the-art ROVs (remotely occupied vehicles) and a wildly successful sub-sea engineering business in Australia. Now, at age 73, he’s written a book about his life.

Over the last few years, he’s become involved with the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library (KVML), helping judge essay contests and attending events. Recently, he issued a challenge of his own. In these precarious times, Tom understands the need to keep funding KVML, even though our doors are temporarily closed. That’s why he generously donated $500 and asked fans to reciprocate. Thanks to everyone’s generosity, we earned $2000! If you missed Tom’s challenge but would still like to donate, click here.

We recently talked to Tom to learn why he supports KVML.

How did you first get involved with the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library (KVML)?

Julia Whitehead, the founder and CEO of KVML, spoke at our Rotary club. What she shared about the organization interested me.

As we all try to wrap our heads around this “new reality” in which are living, you gave us a very generous and much appreciated donation. Why?

KVML needs support now more than ever during these unusual times.

What advice would you give folks about continued support of arts organizations like ours, especially now?

I suggest that everyone take advantage of our time at home by picking up a Kurt Vonnegut book to read. Then, get and stay connected through the KVML webpage. KVML needs your monetary support, especially with the restrictions and closures put on such a great arts facility. That’s why I encourage everyone to chip in whatever they can to support the organization during these challenging times. It’s important that the arts thrive.

What is your favorite Vonnegut quote and why? 

My favorite is “I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.” This is pretty much how I’ve lived my life. Kurt is spot on.

What are your hopes for KVML as we move forward?

I want to see KVML continue to grow and succeed in bringing the arts into the daily lives of people in the community.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Kurt Vonnegut was an author who provided important messages and lessons through his writings. Although I am not as skilled as he was, he inspired me to put my own story to paper. I am proud that my book, Damn the Pressure, Full Speed Ahead is now available on Amazon as both an e-book and in print. Every book brings something new to its readers, and I am honored to join the ranks of people who do that; people called authors.