You know Pete Gustin’s voice. It’s almost a certainty. If you have a television, you’ve heard him speak. He’s been the voice of Super Bowl ads and countless network TV promos. He’s voiced commercials for The Walking Dead, for Archer, Family Guy, and SpongeBob. He’s that dripping baritone you’ve heard a million times thundering through a movie theater before the main feature comes on. He’s also blind. And he surfs.
He wasn’t always blind, although he’s been slowly going blind since the day he was born. “I was born with perfect eyesight,” he said. “Then it started to crap out immediately. I didn’t really notice it until I was eight years old. I was sitting in the classroom and realized I couldn’t see the chalkboard anymore. A couple of local optometrists put glasses on me and it kept me quiet for a little while, but honestly, it wasn’t really helping.”
As it turned out, Gustin had something called macular degeneration. Doctors told his parents that his eyesight would get worse and worse until eventually, he would be blind. A few days later, a woman came to their house and knocked on the door. Pete had been registered with the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, and she was there as a state employee to fill them in on what Pete’s life might look like. It was bleak, to say the least. “She tells my mother with me in the room, ‘your son is never going to be able to maintain a regular school regimen. He’s not going to be able to go to college.’ She says there are state programs for me that will help, but she’s laying out my whole life for me as a ward of the state. I was eight.”