Magicians dazzle the audience to raise awareness for Parkinson’s disease

Magician Mark Brifman performs a magic trick at the second annual Conjuring for Cure at Chabad of SCV. Matt Fernandez/ The Signal

Ladies, gentlemen and children of all ages gathered around the stage at Chabad of Santa Clarita Valley on Sunday morning to be both awed by magic and support a charitable cause during the second annual Conjuring for a Cure event.

Conjuring for a Cure was organized by Dovid Rabotnick through his nonprofit organization Slow-Motion Magic in order to raise funds for the Michael J. Fox Foundation’s research into Parkinson’s Disease. Rabotnick, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease himself in 2013 and started to learn magic as therapy, said that he uses magic shows to increase public awareness of the disease.

“People like magic because they like to feel like there’s something beyond reality and when they see something impossible it makes them feel like a kid again,” Rabotnick said. “I strongly believe that awareness will fuel research and research will find a cure. Normally the Michael J. Fox Foundation gives 88 cents of every dollar to research, which is very good but for grassroots organization fundraisers like this all of the money goes directly to research.“

This year’s show featured five magicians, including Rabotnick, performing short, comedic acts that often used volunteers from the audience to participate in the tricks. 

Audience member Cory Autrey, who was called up to participate in Dave “Namron” Norman’s magic act, said that although he doesn’t normally go to magic shows, he enjoyed the event and would like to attend next year’s show.

“Magic is not something I normally run out to go see, but when I do see it I enjoy it and it was fun being part of the act,” Autrey said. “We reconnected with our friend David a few weeks ago and heard that he was doing a fundraiser, so we came out to support him because it is a worthy cause.”

New to this year’s event was an hour-long pre-show expo where attendees could purchase food, merchandise like custom playing cards and shirts and could watch some magicians, like Mark Brifman, perform magic. 

“Magicians perform magic because we have no social skills and it’s a way to meet people, and I also perform magic because it’s different from anything else I do,” Brifman said. “I heard that this event needed more performers, and I think this is a worthy cause, so I volunteered to perform and I’ve enjoyed myself tremendously.”

Rabotnick said that like last year, the show sold out all of its 85 seats and that after seeing the success of last year’s event, his sponsors were even more generous with donations. Next year, he wants to plan an even bigger event and is aiming to perform in front of an audience of at least 300 people.

“For me, this is cathartic because I know my future with Parkinson’s disease will only degenerate,” he said. “It’s heartwarming to see all this support because sometimes you feel like you’re going through this alone. To see people become involved and understand why this is important makes me feel more supported as an individual.”

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