Posts Tagged ‘Volunteer Awareness Month’

John Kurth continuously answers the call

Monday, January 30th, 2012

“In 2009, upon retiring after 37 years as a special education teacher, I became a hospital magician. Since I could go during the day I was assigned to both North Shore Evanston and Hope, with Hope becoming my main assignment in 2010.  In the fall of 2011 I, along with Dave Barclay and Mike Stevens, got magic underway at Central DuPage Hospital.  I have helped at various OHM special events and fund raisers, and assisted in training several classes of new magicians. I have presented magic on behalf of Miles for Magic at the Chicago Marathon Expo in 2010 and 2011, as well as at the 2011 Tricks Are for Kids benefit.
Each time I knock and enter a patient’s room I know I want to make that patient’s time as fun, and as magical as possible.  Both magician and patient sense the anticipation, and then see and feel the happy magical outcome that so often readily transpires. I leave the hospital feeling so lucky and privileged to be given the opportunity to wear the Open Heart magician’s coat.”
John is a perfect example of the range of volunteers that are attracted to Open Heart Magic. From young professionals looking for a way to get involved with a charity to those who have retired but want to continue making a difference, we welcome all dedicated people. John spent his life helping kids, and that certainly wasn’t about to change just because he wasn’t teaching anymore. Just because volunteer awareness month is nearly over doesn’t mean it’s too late. Check out

Susan Brockway is running for a reason

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

“What would possess me, Susan Brockway, to decide to run 26.2 miles? Most people who know me would be asking this exact question. However, this is one question I found very easy to answer the moment I decided to run for Miles for Magic. There is nothing more gratifying to me than knowing that OHM and the incredible magicians are bringing true joy and happiness to the children who otherwise are facing huge obstacles on a daily basis. I now see that OHM is not only a symbol of strength and courage for the children they help, but to my surprise, for me as well. I was introduced to OHM by a great friend and amazing person, Alyson Stevens. Alyson and her efforts with OHM gave me insight into the organization, which, in turn, inspired me to want to participate. Having multiple hospital stays as a child, I knew the importance of healing through laughter; even the smallest smile, laugh, or “trick” can make a child’s day. To the many volunteers who coordinate this effort and to those who donate their time and talents to entertaining, I send my gratitude and thanks. I am very pleased to participate in this effort.”


Running the marathon is a huge commitment, but it can be rewarding on so many levels. The Miles for Magic team will be there to support you through all the highs and lows of training just like our magicians are there to help kids through their highs and lows. You don’t have to run the marathon to be a part of the team, but it’s certainly the top of the mountain! Come run with us, and you’ll see how much fun pain can be!

Christine Gravel – From VolunteerMatch to Marketing Chair

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

“I got involved with OHM when I was on looking for a way to give back. I came across the description for Hospital Magician and knew I’d found something. No magic experience required and I was going to learn how to do cool magic for sick kids!
My OHM “career” began as a Hospital Magician and quickly evolved to include Marketing Chair on the Board of Directors. OHM is such an amazing organization. Everyone is so passionate about their part and they truly believe in the mission. The brand needed to reflect that passion; be astonishing like the magic is for the kids. We have since revamped the entire brand and applied it to a new website, secret lessons, posters, banners, invitations, the list goes on.
The kids are by far the greatest reason to be involved. As a magician you find yourself laughing out loud with the patients and their families. The kids have the most amazing outlook and stamina. They make you want to be a good magician for them because it means that much to them. It’s truly moving to be a part of their healing process and it’s an honor to be an OHM Hospital Magician.”



Often times people know they want to give back, but aren’t sure where they fit into the equation. Many find themselves scouring sites like VolunteerMatch hoping something feels right. We were lucky that Christine found us, and we hope you do to! We’d love to have you aboard in any capacity, so give us a look! Feel free to share with your friends who are on the humanitarian hunt as well.


Marie Gerken – Mom first, runner second

Monday, January 16th, 2012

“While I wasn’t exactly planning to run another marathon (running the 2003 LA Marathon was good in my book), I learned long ago to never say never! A friend of mine was looking to join an organization to run with for the 2011 Chicago Marathon because the race registration had already closed. Among the many charities available to join, we miraculously came across Open Heart Magic. While reading the mission of Open Heart Magic, I realized that ironically, my family had been recipients of OHM’s generous and heartfelt work during our son Luke’s stay at Children’s Memorial Hospital in March 2010. Luke ended up at Children’s after fighting a virus for weeks which eventually traveled to his kidneys. The magicians from Open Heart Magic who visited him were such a big hit that Luke kept the magic tricks they performed and wanted to stay longer at Children’s than needed! They truly were part of a team of people that brought comfort, smiles, laughs, and the wonder of magic to him during an emotional and unpleasant time in our lives. And so, instead of my original decision to be part of the road crew for the M4M running team, I decided to join the team as a runner for the 2011 Chicago Marathon. I did this, not only to give back for what they had done for our son Luke, but with the hope that OHM can expand to more hospitals and touch more children and families going through challenging illnesses. Every mile I ran during my training and the marathon was for one more smile, one more laugh, one more glimpse of hope, one more wonder of magic, and MANY more magicians to touch the lives of sick children in Chicago area hospitals. Running the 2011 Chicago Marathon was truly for the benefit of these children and the growth of OHM and not about my self-accomplishment. I feel privileged to be a small part of a great organization consisting of many great people with the best hearts around!”


Did you know that you can register for the marathon even after it closes by running for charity? Of course that doesn’t mean you should wait until it’s too late to sign up. The Miles for Magic team is a perfect way for people to get involved and truly support the organization and children. Marie’s story motivated me (Colin Joliat) when I read it, and I too will be running this year. I don’t think I could put it any better than she did; “one more smile, one more laugh, one more glimpse of hope, one more wonder of magic.”


Katie Riddell – Running Chair, Professional Board, Rockstar

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

“I recently got involved with Open Heart Magic after attending the 2011 Annual Benefit. The stories shared at the benefit from Mike and some of the people who had experienced magic through Open Heart Magic were the motivation for me to get involved. It was evident how powerful the magic that the volunteers performed was for kids and I decided I wanted to help with this great cause. Since May, I have gotten involved with Open Heart Magic as the Miles for Magic charity running co-chair and as a member of OHM’s first Professional Board. It has been an incredible experience so far. I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting all of the fantastic, passionate people involved in this organization.”
Katie was a great addition to the OHM family. Miles for Magic is one of our biggest ways of raising funds, and her work is essential to helping us grow! If you aren’t ready to join the board, why not stop by this year’s benefit? Check out these pictures from last year!

A few words from Chairman of the Board, Aaron Werner

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

“I was about a year out of a law school when I decided that it was time to make a serious commitment to start volunteering in the Chicago area. In the process of looking for a cause that I could rally around, I came across Open Heart Magic (OHM). Once I read the synopsis of what OHM does, I immediately pursued the opportunity to become a hospital magician. Luckily I made it through the interview stage and Magic University training and became an OHM volunteer magician in the fall of 2009 at Rush University Hospital.
Being an OHM hospital magician is a life changing experience. To see what children (and their families) go through at the hospital is something you have to see for yourself to believe. Young children often go days at a time without seeing their parents because they have to work jobs several hours away – meanwhile, these children sit in a sterile environment with wires attached to them wondering what is wrong with them. The hospital environment is scary for children, but OHM shines brightly in the lives of these children, providing entertaining therapy and engagement in an otherwise stressful and traumatic situation.
Moved by my experiences as an OHM hospital magician, I accepted an invitation to join the Board of Directors of Open Heart Magic in the summer of 2010. In December 2010, I was chosen to be the new Chairman of the OHM Board of Directors. Over the past year as Chairman, I have been fortunate to work with an extremely talented Board of Directors and Executive Director, Mike Walton, to make giants steps in expanding the reach and services provided by OHM. To list a few of our successes, we have been able to: (i) establish new hospital programs at Central DuPage Hospital and Northwest Community Hospital; (ii) establish the first office space for OHM, located at 300 West Adams in the Loop; (iii) hire our first two employees: a Business & Programs Manager and a Manager of Magic; (iv) create and launch the OHM Professionals Board; (v) add key members to the OHM Board of Directors; (vi) host our largest OHM Annual Benefit to date; (vii) enjoy great success with the second year of our Miles for Magic running team; and (viii) grow revenue to new levels to help bring more magic to more kids in more hospitals.
The magic performed by OHM hospital magicians has a profound impact on the lives of children in the Chicago area during extremely trying times. Whether it is entertaining children or teaching them magic after a performance, OHM connects with patients and their families on a very real level. It is this impact that inspires me each and every day. With everything that we have accomplished in the past year, along with all that we have set out to accomplish in 2012, I am excited to see what the future holds for OHM.”
OHM isn’t just a few people performing tricks for kids, we leave that up to cartoon rabbits. There are many people, like Aaron, working very hard behind the scenes to help grow the organization. We have lofty goals about the size and reach that we want Open Heart Magic to have, and we need people like you to help make that happen. Aaron began as a hospital magician and then decided he could do even more. Where will you begin?

Ed Barry shares the ‘Magic of Volunteering’

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

“One of the most fulfilling things I have ever done is joining OHM. About seven years ago I had been attempting to get involved in volunteering at Hope Children’s Hospital, not being part of an organization it was a difficult task. I witnessed an individual doing card magic at a local event and asked him about it, he began to tell me about this organization where he was able to go into children’s hospitals and do bedside magic for sick kids. Having no magical experience I had my doubts about getting involved. After an exhilarating 12 week training period I had the confidence, knowledge and tools to do something I didn’t think was ever possible. I am rewarded every single time I perform at the hospital with smiles, laughter and looks of astonishment. OHM has given me the opportunity to change these children’s lives if but just for the moment and take the pain and fear away and replace it with a smile or a laugh.”
There are many people like Ed who would love to help, but just don’t know where to begin. Thankfully, all of your questions can be answered right here in this link!

Al Lampier works her magic with a bullhorn

Thursday, January 5th, 2012
“My name is Al(ison) Lampier and I never believed in magic until recently. As a kid, I disliked the feeling of being tricked and left out of the knowledge of why or how. It wasn’t until later that I figured out that magic doesn’t have an explanation, nor is it a trick. For me, magic is found in the purity of people’s souls. It’s magic that kindness exists within us, and it’s magic that there are those who want to share it! That’s why I joined Open Heart Magic. I found this benevolence voluntarily overflowing from my friend Sue “Badass” Walton, a fellow Crossfitter. Even in the gym, as we’re sweating it out to be the first to finish, greedily gasping for air, she always finds a way to encourage me! It took me a second, but I knew I had to get in on the goodness in this woman’s life, so I started small. She convinced me to volunteer on the road crew at the Chicago Half (Sept 2011). It was so amazingly uplifting and fun that I went on to do road crew/running buddy at the Chicago Marathon (Oct 2011). Seeing people’s faces light up as they saw our signs or heard our encouragement over the bullhorn was one of the best times I’d ever had among complete strangers! These experiences have reinforced my belief that magic is found in good people and their ability to share the gift of humble, unassuming awesomeness… so why not surround yourself with them?! Thank you, Open Heart Magic, for blanketing me in your abundant love and friendship, and for reminding me to Run Like Clowns Are Chasing You!!!”


You don’t have to be a magician, or even a runner, to make a huge difference. Supporting others will always be in style! Are you willing to join the road crew? Could you possibly turn down “one of the best times I’d ever had among complete strangers”? I think not. Visit and join in the fun!



How John Keippel ran into magic

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

“It all started with a trick.  Two tricks actually.  The first was signing up for an event I had never done before.  Never trained for.  An event involving an activity I openly dreaded.  The event was the Chicago Marathon.  I was invited over to learn about Open Heart Magic at the Shamrock Shuffle expo.  While I was a little reluctant to accept the offer to see a trick involving red balls, a lime, and a potato, this would be trick two, and the one that would convince me that running on the inaugural Miles for Magic running team was a no brainer.  Fast forward several months, and, as marathon training was progressing, I was asked if I’d like to sign up for the next session of Magic University.  I can’t for the life of me think of a single reason someone would say no to an offer like that.  Now a year later, I can safely say that this is one of the most awesome things I’ve ever done.  Each visit to the hospital is different, and I always leave knowing that I made someone’s stay just a little better.  It’s nothing short of magic.”


Feeling inspired? You can check out the Miles for Magic running team right here! Bad knees? That’s OK, we have runners competing in the half marathon as well as creating their own personal challenges as well!