Updated: Sep 21, 2019
Imagine a child in need meeting a princess they’ve idolized and for a moment their fears and worries melt away. They are simply a child, interacting with a dear friend. Images like these are brought to life by an inspiring organization called “A Moment of Magic”.
A Moment of Magic (AMOM) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded by Kylee McGrane and Margaret McAndrew with the mission of “restoring the magic of believing at a time when a child needs to just be a kid, and reminding them to be brave, strong, and fearless.” They are able to achieve this by inviting college students to visit children’s hospitals and social service institutions dressed as Disney princesses. With 16 chapters across the country, a total of 500 volunteers and 35 characters, these young ladies have started a movement and are certainly making a difference.
I had the honor of interviewing Kylee McGrane to find out more about how A Moment of Magic was created, where the inspiration came from and what their experience has been thus far.
“Love is an Open Door”
“My original career aspirations were not clear when I entered college. I knew that I wanted to be creative and genuinely enjoy going to work every day”, explained Kylee McGrane. “I knew that I wanted to help other people and try to make the world a better place. I wanted a job that would let me express my creativity and vast interests (working with children, writing, photography, management, doing something that ‘matters’, etc.), but I still did not know exactly what I wanted to do.”
Upon watching Frozen, during a visit home for Christmas break in 2014, Kylee fell in love with the storyline. Kylee was also inspired by Taylor Swift and her work with pediatric cancer patients and that was the moment she first thought of visiting children’s hospitals dressed like Disney characters. She called her friend, Margaret McAndrew, and asked her to join in. McAndrew quickly said yes, set up a GoFund me page and the organization was born.
“For the First Time in Forever”
My interview with Kylee was done via Facebook and she was very generous with her time as she thoughtfully answered each of my questions. I was so impressed and moved by Kylee’s answers, I hope you are too.
Kira: What was your experience the first few times you visited a hospital?
Kylee: “When I think about our first visit, it oddly seems like years ago but it also feels like yesterday. It was 2015 at Cohen's Children's Hospital in Long Island, a 202 bed hospital. I remember being so nervous and going in costumes that were ill-fitting, and definitely not up to our standard now. But I remember after leaving the hospital, my experience was all I talked about. Volunteering in this way was all I wanted to do and I wanted to share this experience with others so we could reach more kids. What is incredible about this visit 3 years ago is that we operated on this very simple mission, and it is the crux of every single visit and every single decision to this day.”
Serving the children has and continues to be the inspiration behind A Moment of Magic. There are bracelets hanging over Kylee’s desk, all given to her from children she has met during her time volunteering and they serve as a reminder of her passion and the organization’s goal. “Any day that feels long with paperwork and phone calls,” Kylee explained, “I just look at those bracelets and I remember our purpose.”
The organization has continued to grow as they recruit volunteers from various colleges around the country. All of the volunteers are required to go through in-depth trainings, Kylee expanded, “that cover everything from character integrity, to working with medically vulnerable children to coping mechanisms for volunteers.” Chapters are currently active at the following educational institutions:
· University of Arizona
· University of Wisconsin
· Mercer University
· Coastal Carolina University
· Fordham University
· College of Mount Saint Vincent
· Ohio State University
· Stony Brook University
· West Virginia University
· Gustavus College
· Western Michigan University
· University of Portland
· Gonzaga University
· Temple University
· University of Cincinnati
· University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
“We are so excited that we finally have chapters across the country which has helped us reach so many more children,” said McGrane. “A Moment of Magic has worked with children in 27 states and three countries and counting! This number will continue to increase as our volunteer and chapter numbers increase! We have so many different outlets to connect with families. Most traditionally, we partner with hospitals all over the country to provide in-hospital visits, but we also partner with other amazing nonprofit organizations to team up to provide our services. We also fill individual requests for families!” If you are a family in need and would like to request a visit, go to this website: https://www.amomentofmagic.org/recommend-a-child”
“Some People are Worth Melting For”
Kira: What is the biggest challenge your organizations faces?
Kylee: “We exist because things such as pediatric cancer, cystic fibrosis, and other debilitating illnesses exists. It breaks my heart that there are children that have to battle terrible illnesses and that they don’t get to experience childhood the way that other children do. The biggest challenge is knowing that is the reality.” Kylee went on to say, “It truly breaks my heart knowing that there are children that are going through something no one ever should. Something that makes me extremely proud of our volunteers is that they actively try to learn more about the world of pediatric cancer in and out of costume. They learn the reality of the funding and they've seen the statistic first hand. Because of this they began getting involved in rallies, writing their local representatives, and looking for new opportunities to help these families. Knowing that there are so many kids that we have to reach is a looming thought. That’s why our volunteers passionately advocate for each other to operate on a ‘never-say-no’ policy. If you can be somewhere to provide some moments of love and light to these kids, you should be there. There have been times that we have visited terminal children and they’ve passed weeks later, hours later, or while we were there. Time moves fast in the world of pediatric cancer, and things can change by the minute, and until pediatric cancer is eradicated we can never overcome these fears. The more time we can spend focused on the child, the more we grow, and the more ability we have to provide our services, the more moments of simple magic we can create.”
Kira: What is the most rewarding part of what you do?
Kylee: "There are so many rewarding parts of my job. For my volunteers, it’s so incredible and surreal when they tell me AMOM is their favorite part of their school or that they feel like they finally belong. That’s such a touching, surreal sentiment and one that truly touches me on so many levels. For the kids we meet, its those moments that you spend with the child and just see them light up and everything else fades away. That’s why we call ourselves A Moment of Magic, because in those interactions that is all we can describe it as — just magic."
Kira: What message would you like to share with the children you serve?
Kylee: "That’s a hard question. For the children, I would just tell them they are it. They are the reason we do everything and we will continue to be advocates for them, in and out of costume.
For the parents, I would say thank you for welcoming us into your hospital rooms and your homes. We are so privileged to know and love your children."
“Only an Act of True Love”
A majority of the organizations funding comes from public donations and they give so much of their time and energy to changing the lives of others. The support of the community is imperative to allowing the employees and volunteers to continue their work. If you’re inspired to help their organization, visit their website at amomentofmagic.org to donate or learn more about becoming a volunteer.