Magicians Brighten NMCP Pediatrics Patients' Day

Story Number: NNS120709-08Release Date: 7/9/2012 2:18:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Anna Arndt, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth Public Affairs

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (NNS) -- Four members of the International Brotherhood of Magicians visited Naval Medical Center Portsmouth's Pediatrics Ward to perform a magic show for the patients and their families July 3.

Two of the magicians were from Virginia and two came from Canada to perform for the children while in Norfolk for the International Brotherhood of Magicians annual conference. The performed card and coin tricks, the never-ending handkerchief and many other sleight-of-hand tricks that kept the audience enthralled.

"Every year, we try to go to a children's hospital or a hospital with a children's ward and do a quick show for the kids, to take away some of the normal hospital routine," said Scott Hood, one of the Canadian magicians and the I.B.M. director of hospital shows.
"It takes their mind off what they're going through. It's something different; they get a bit of a laugh, a bit of a giggle. They get to see something they may have not seen before or may have only seen on television. And we have fun doing it."

"I love doing magic," said Joan Caesar, the other magician from Canada. "I especially love doing magic for children, and this was perfect - to perform for kids who are in the hospital and maybe need a little smile on their face."

Eight children as well as their parents attended the show, with each magician performing for approximately 10 minutes.

"I can't imagine what it's like to be a kid stuck in the hospital, especially around the Fourth of July," said Army Staff Sgt. Ezekiel Jump, one of the local I.B.M. members. "I hope it brings joy to their lives. Some of them were shy when they first came in but by the end their eyes were big and they were smiling, and that's why I do magic - for that look."

The parents enjoyed the show as well.

"We had a great time," said Tara Sweeten, whose daughter is a patient. "I think it was such a blessing to all the kids, especially to my daughter, who is not in the hospital very often. We didn't expect anything like this, and it really cheered her up, so we really appreciate it."

"I really enjoyed all the magicians coming here and giving the kids a show," said Mischelle Ducusin, mother of a six-year-old patient. "My daughter had a lot of fun, and it just made her day."

For Jump and Michael Heckenberger, the other local magician, magic is a passion they have cultivated for many years.

"I love this art with a passion," said Jump. "There is nothing more satisfying that watching the moment the spectator realized that what you just did is not possible. That face, the pure moment of astonishment, is something that fuels me."

Jump's day job is as a doctrine writer in the Individual Training Division of the Directorate of Training and Doctrine for the U.S. Army School of Music, stationed at Joint Expeditionary Base-Little Creek.
Heckenberger, who retired as a major after a career in the Air Force as a B-52 navigator, became interested in magic as a teenager when he started learning card tricks.

"I love doing stuff like this," said Heckenberger, "I love the kids, I like entertaining people, and I like making them feel better. I know it's a tough world we live in. I especially like coming out here for the military children. I know it's tough being raised in the military, with all the moves and making new friends, especially if you're not feeling well and especially around the holidays. It gives them something to look forward to - some entertainment."

He is president of Assembly 226 (Williamsburg, Va.) of the Society of American Magicians and is also a member of Ring 103 of the I.B.M.

Like, Jump, Heckenberger's favorite aspect of performing is the look on the audiences' faces. "I think it helps get their minds off what going on here," Heckenberger said. "Magic is an escape from reality, a chance to believe in something special. It's the ultimate escape for me."

"I sure hope I can come out again," Jump added. "I'm a Soldier, and it's nice to be able to come out to a naval hospital and perform for military children."

About 1,500 members of the I.B.M. came to Norfolk for the five-day conference. The organization has been in existence for 90 years and has thousands of members from 88 different countries. There are about 300 branches, known as Rings, all over the world.

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