CLEVELAND — It was a magical time for students at Harvey Rice Wraparound School this week, where students were treated to an interactive Las Vegas-style magic show by a world-renowned Cleveland magician with a love for giving back.
Rick Smith Jr. was a 90-mile-an-hour fastball pitcher back in his Cleveland State University days and now holds seven world records for card-throwing - including throwing a card over 216 feet! He's done countless TV shows and interviews and is known all over the world.
Fame, however, never made him forget his Greater Cleveland roots.
"It means everything to go around and performing for these schools," he says. "This is exactly why I do it and why it's important to do it here in Cleveland."
Rick brought his "Magic Gives Back" program to Harvey Rice on Monday.
"The kids were energized," Principal Jason Tidmore told 3News. "They enjoyed this opportunity, and I think it was a good fit right before we go out for Thanksgiving break."
Rick does his fast-paced, Las Vegas-style family show — packed with card tricks, illusions, and disappearing acts — at schools across the country, all while raising thousands of dollars for school districts.
"Instead of kids selling magazines or cookie dough or wrapping paper, we actually invite families to the show," Smith said. "The more tickets these students can sell, the more money they can earn. They can get donations from grandpa and grandma."
Or, from anyone who wants to buy a ticket. This year, Brecksville, Mayfield, Elyria, Solon, and many other local districts are getting the Magic Gives Back experience, with myself serving as Magician's Assistant.
"If your pathway is to become a journalist, if your pathway is to become an educator, if your pathway is to become a magician, I think it just gives you some hope," Tidmore stated.
Smith, who started performing at just 7 years old, says his best magic is showing kids they can be whatever they want to be — and that's no illusion.
"I get to perform magic tricks," he gushed. "I get to perform illusions and card tricks for a living, which basically shows anyone that's watching that whatever you want to do, you can do it."
Last year, Smith's Magic Gives Back program raised between $10,000 and $30,000 every weekend for school districts. A portion of ticket sales goes to the districts, and students receives prizes for the tickets they sell. This year, Rick is giving away Play Station 5s to top ticket sellers, and a Disney trip for four is the grand prize!