To most kids, the world revolves around recess and their next birthday party, but for the 27 percent of U.S. children that live with chronic illnesses, it’s not that simple. UNC’s A Moment of Magic Foundation is working to bring joy into these kids’ lives.
A Moment of Magic Foundation is a nonprofit organization that gives college students the opportunity to meet and interact with medically vulnerable children, including cancer patients, children with birth defects and children with physical or mental disabilities.
Sophomore Julia Drahzal started UNC’s chapter of the organization in March of 2018. There are currently 80 volunteers, 45 of which are “character volunteers.” Some of A Moment of Magic’s most popular, free-of-charge services are “princess visits” and “superhero visits.” During these visits, character volunteers dress up as the children’s favorite movie characters.
All the volunteers with A Moment of Magic are passionate about their work with medically vulnerable children. Drahzal said her inspiration to start a chapter at UNC stemmed from suddenly losing a family friend.
“She was really young, so I knew I wanted to do something in her honor to make sure her legacy lived on, and this was what came out of it,” Drahzal said.
Drahzal said one of her most memorable experiences as a character volunteer is visiting a hospitalized girl named Lauren who had the character Drahzal was dressed as on her T-shirt and bed sheets. Lauren told Drahzal she would never forget meeting her.
“She knew everything about my movie, everything about me, so it was really exciting to meet someone who was so enthralled with the idea of meeting their role model,” Drahzal said.
Drahzal said A Moment of Magic visits children’s hospitals, social service institutions and patients’ homes all around the area. She said they have visited patients up to three hours away because of their commitment to bring joy to as many children’s lives as possible.
As a nonprofit, A Moment of Magic is reliant on fundraising opportunities and sponsorships from local businesses. North Carolina-based general contractor Hayco Construction partnered with the organization in January 2019 as a sponsor. Founder and CEO Travis Hayes’ daughter, Elise Hayes, is a character volunteer with A Moment of Magic.