It all started in 2003, when founder Mike Walton brought his energy, humor, and sleight-of-hand magic tricks to kids at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Mike quickly realized that magic was the perfect vehicle for engaging these young patients. He watched as kids who were feeling sad and isolated rediscovered their sense of fun, laughter and wonder. As they mastered each new trick, kids who had felt helpless now felt empowered. They gained the strength they needed at a critical time in their treatment.
When Mike saw what magic could do for hospitalized kids, it gave him the idea of building a larger, sustainable program that would reach more kids in hospitals. With encouragement from hospital staff, young patients and their families, Mike launched Open Heart Magic and recruited the first group of volunteer Hospital Magicians. These were people interested in helping kids in hospitals but with no background in magic.
So Mike developed an intensive 12-week program to teach these volunteers how to become Hospital Magicians. This first training became the basis of today’s Magic University training program. 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. The rest, as they say, is history.