My first marathon experience was better than I could have imagined; therefore, choosing to run it again this year felt like a no-brainer. And what was even easier than choosing to run it again was choosing to run for the same charity group as I did last year: Open Heart Magic.
I’ve had the privilege of working with a kiddo receiving a stem cell transplant, which requires a lengthy hospital stay (anywhere between 4-8 weeks, sometimes more). Keeping spirits high is a big part of my job, but the side effects, isolation from siblings/families, and long admission understandably and unfortunately takes an emotional toll. The physical changes I witness these kids experience is hard; but, trust me when I tell you that there is nothing more worrisome than when a patient no longer becomes excited or happy for the things that he or she once did. The moments when parents begin to say, “He hasn’t been himself,” and “I haven’t seen him smile in days,” are moments of heartbreak for myself, the medical team, the parents, and most critically, the patient. And in these heartbreaking moments I’m so incredibly grateful for Open Heart Magic.
Following an evening of attempting to engage this particular patient in his most favorite activity (Lego building) and listening to his mom express her fears regarding the change in her son’s happiness (or lack there of) was an evening I made sure to highlight him as a priority for the Open Heart Magic magicians to visit as the final trick I had up my sleeve for the day. Hoping this would ignite a sense of light and joy this kiddo (and his mom) so badly needed to be reminded was still there inside of him.
Entering in the patient’s room the next morning, the room felt lighter. The first words that the patient’s mom said to me was, “I heard *patient name* smile and laugh for the first time in weeks last night,” and continued to state with tears in her eyes, “I think I needed that laugh just as much as he did.” Despite feeling the poor physical side effects of his Stem Cell Transplant, emotionally, this kid turned a corner. His motivation to build his next Lego set for his “Lego City” themed hospital room and his joy in engaging in his passions was restored all thanks to the Open Heart Magicians who, to this day, will never know the depth of their impact of choosing to selflessly volunteer their time at 5:30pm on a Thursday night. And equally as important, the mother of this patient was relieved and reassured her son’s light was never burnt out.
To put it short, not only does Open Heart Magic empower and distract kids by teaching magic at bedside, but they are the magic that these kids often need in times of desperation. The work Open Heart Magic does is top-shelf. It’s priceless. What’s demonstrated in the story above, and what I feel is most remarkable is they show up not having a clue what patients have gone through or what they’ve endured that day; yet, continue to have the same impact on so many more kids in addition to my patient. Raising money for this selfless charity is the absolute least I can do if it means more kids in my workplace and others continue to experience a sense of joy and hopefulness during a dark time.
This year, my goal is to raise $2000 for Open Heart Magic. The names of each person who donate will be entered into a list and a name on that list will be randomly selected to receive a $100 visa gift card to be thanked for his or her generosity. Additionally, as I did last year, if there is anyone you would like me to run in honor of throughout my training and/or race please write his or her name in the comments when submitting a donation or in a text/personal message. I’d love to represent those people remembered on the back of my race shirt again this year.
Thank you in advance for your support - I could not be more excited to do something I love while also giving back. Here’s to Chicago, 2019.