20190422-IMG_9534.jpg

Though the organization hasn't officially started yet, it plans to begin visiting hospitals in the fall.

Magic isn’t always the mystical sorcery that’s read about in books and seen in movies. It can come alive, and Taylor Davidson, Payton Bleach and Emma Vogel can prove it.

JMU is now one of 20 chapters involved with “A Moment of Magic” — an organization where college students dress up as princesses and superheroes to visit sick children in hospitals and social service institutions. When the characters meet with the kids, they engage in various activities, such as tea parties or coloring.

“I’m so excited to bring joy to all the kids,” Bleach, a freshman justice studies major said. “I’ve seen the way certain illnesses affect family members and adults, and I can’t imagine having to go through something like that.”

Davidson, a freshman studio art major and president of the club, came up with the idea of founding a chapter at JMU by watching her older brother succeed in his chapter at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. She sent out a few emails, started the application in December and got approved in February.

Once Davidson applied, she immediately contacted her two friends — Vogel and Bleach — and asked them to assist her. Vogel, a freshman political science major and member chair, and Bleach, vice president, are both looking forward to their responsibilities. Davidson will be responsible for holding the meetings for the general body, and Bleach will act as her right hand. Vogel’s position includes gathering new members and preparing them for hospital visits.

The girls carry the honor of membership in the organization with incredible pride.

“Taylor is so passionate about this,” Vogel said. “So when she brought up the idea, I was like, ‘I absolutely wanna help you. That sounds like an amazing idea.’ We have a really fantastic, close-knit friend group, and everyone in there just wanted to immediately help out.” 

The organization’s passion is blossoming fast, and it’s only the beginning. As a new member, one begins their time playing the part of a “magic maker.” This person is responsible for helping the characters get ready and spends time in the rooms with the volunteers and kids. If one wishes to become a princess, the application process begins with collecting the required amount of 40 service hours and raising the money to fund one’s costume. 

Typically, there’s no time limit for visits, as the organization is dedicated to assuring maximum interaction time between the kids and characters. 

Davidson, Vogel and Bleach hope that anyone with the slightest interest in the club joins, especially because of the amount of support they’ve received from people within the JMU and Harrisonburg community.

Since A Moment of Magic came to JMU mid-way through the semester, they weren’t able to get their club certification until late. Once JMU accepted the chapter, the club members had one month to raise their chapter dues of $1,500. They were unable to do any fundraising on campus because they weren’t an official club yet, so all of their fundraising had to be done off-campus.

The girls met their goal in time and found creative ways to raise money, such as conducting bake sales throughout Harrisonburg. Davidson even sold  her artwork.

“I definitely expected support, but I didn’t realize how much overwhelming support there would be for us,” Davidson said. 

The club will officially begin hospital visits next semester as well as weekly meetings for training and bonding activities. 

“When you think of JMU, you think of the happiest, kindest people on Earth,” Vogel said. “Harrisonburg is ‘The Friendly City,’ so I don’t think there’s a better place to have this club.”

Contact Joanna Sommer at sommerjj@dukes.jmu.edu. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.