CHICAGO (May 3, 2013) — Exelon Corporation has recognized employee Justin Bedi, who lives in Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood, with its top employee volunteer honor, the Excellence Award, for his service with Open Heart Magic. The volunteer recognition is part of the company’s annual Energy for the Community Volunteer Awards and comes with a $20,000 cash grant to Open Heart Magic in Bedi’s honor.

As Exelon’s top honoree, Bedi will represent the company at the national Jefferson Awards in Washington, D.C., later this year. The Jefferson Awards are an annual celebration of volunteerism hosted by the American Institute for Public Service.

Created in 2003, Open Heart Magic uses magic and laughter to energize and strengthen seriously ill children in Chicago area hospitals and aid their healing process.

Bedi, a staff auditor at Exelon, has performed one-on-one bedside magic routines twice a month at Lurie Children’s Hospital since 2011. Last year alone, he performed magic routines for 126 patients and their family members, leaving a positive impression and uplifting their spirits.

“Justin teaches magic and shares tricks with hundreds of kids each year,” said Michael Walton, founder of Open Heart Magic. “In many cases, children haven’t smiled since they arrived in the hospital, but thanks to Justin and our other magicians, the children are now laughing and performing their own magic tricks for the parents and nurses.”

Bedi currently serves on the Open Heart Magic professional board and works diligently to raise funds and increase awareness of the organization’s activities in Chicago.

He uses his professional auditing skills to increase the impact of Open Heart Magic’s annual “Tricks are for Kids” benefit and hopes to raise over $150,000 this year — a 50 percent increase from the benefit’s usual revenue. This extra funding would allow Open Heart Magic to increase the number of hospital magicians from 60 to 150, and to reach more than 10,000 children throughout Chicago in the next three years.

Bedi shares his knowledge as a certified trainer for the 12-week intensive volunteer training course known as “Magic University” to help reach that goal.  Because most of the volunteer candidates have no prior magic experience, Open Heart Magic relies on Bedi and other experienced hospital magicians to train new volunteers to be successful in a hospital environment.

“With the assistance of magic, I am able to help sick children laugh, smile and be amazed,” Bedi said.  “When a child is able to smile or forgets about their situation, they are, in my opinion, beginning to heal.  Bringing smiles and happiness to a child, even for an instant, will put them on the road to recovery.”

Christopher M. Crane, Exelon president and CEO, presented Bedi the Excellence Award in Chicago on Monday, April 29.

“On behalf of all Exelon employees companywide, I am honored to share in the celebration of Justin’s accomplishments as our Excellence Award recipient,” Crane said.  “His dedicated commitment to Open Heart Magic exemplifies how our employees make meaningful impacts on the communities they serve, not only through their jobs, but also through their volunteer service.”

Exelon’s Energy for the Community Volunteer Awards were open to all eligible employees from the Exelon family of companies who volunteered at least 50 hours of community service in 2012. Last year, more than 3,800 Exelon employee volunteers gave nearly 105,000 hours of their time to community nonprofit organizations. The donated hours are equivalent to 2,625 workweeks or nearly 50 years of full-time service.

The awards highlight Exelon’s Energy for the Community corporate citizenship program, which encourages volunteerism to support environmental stewardship, education, arts and culture, neighborhood enhancement, and diversity in the community.

(l-r) Steve Solomon, vice president of corporate relations at Exelon, South Loop resident and Exelon employee Justin Bedi, Michael Walton, founder of Open Heart Magic, and Darryl Johnson, Exelon employee volunteer manager.