How We Began Making Magic…
In November, 2003, commodities trader Mike Walton became a volunteer at Rush Children’s Hospital performing close-up, sleight-of-hand magic for patients. He soon realized that magic offered the perfect vehicle for helping kids by getting them involved with an interaction that excited and interested them. Mike developed techniques to harness the power of the excitement associated with magic to help kids heal and feel better. Through the magic, the kids developed a sense of mastery and were able to conquer the feelings of sadness, fear and isolation common during a stay in the hospital. With each trick, the kids learned new skills and rediscovered their sense of fun and laughter — things that kids need in order to heal and return to full strength.
Launching Open Heart Magic
With the encouragement of hospital staff, patients, and their families, Mike launched Open Heart Magic and recruited the first group of volunteer OHM Hospital Magicians comprised of professionals from around Greater Chicago who had no background in magic but were interested in helping kids in hospitals. Over the course of 12 intensive weeks, he taught them to become Hospital Magicians; This first training is the basis of the Introductory Training at OHM Magic University. Mike also started building the Board of Directors and a small group of volunteers to manage the legal and financial responsibilities, kick off fundraising, and help with operations.
In 2004, Open Heart Magic was officially registered as a not-for-profit (NFP) organization and received the tax-exempt 501c(3) status of a charitable foundation through the pro-bono legal assistance of Jenner & Block.
Open Heart Magic Today
Hospital Magicians now reach out to kids in nine Chicago area hospitals, working closely with our hospital partners to help support the healing and wellbeing of patients and their families. We’ve pioneered additional programming to help support long-term patients who require extended interactions with our magicians.
With a goal to expand and reach more kids at their bedside each year, Open Heart Magic is poised for continued growth as we strive to make magic in the lives of children in Chicagoland hospitals.