Ashley Vanristell can conjure up a dove out of thin air, but he can’t wish his debilitating immune disorder away. So the nine-year-old magician has done the next best thing –— wielding the magic wand to pay his exorbitant medical bills.
The Mumbai boy stole the show at Vismayam, the National Festival of Magic, held recently in Thiruvananthapuram. Suffering from hypogammaglobulinemia, a rare disorder caused by the lack of B-lymphocytes, which leads to low levels of antibodies, Ashley’s monthly medicine bill comes to Rs 64,000.
His father Clive, employed in West Asia, and mom Andrea were devastated when Ashley was first diagnosed at five. But displaying courage and wisdom unusual for his age, he came up with the idea of learning magic. “He understands his condition well. We were surprised when he decided to do something to fund his own treatment,” recalled Andrea.
Instead of blaming his fate, Ashley evolved a magic cure of his own, and has performed at more than a thousand stage shows, besides doing modelling assignments for several well-known brands. “We should not give up on life. Now that I’ve got some fame, I want to start a foundation and reach out to children like me who suffer from this rare disease,” he says.
Moved by Ashley’s courage, Vismayam organisers raised Rs 27,000 for him. “Wonder kids like Ashley give us hope,” says well known magician Gopinath Muthukad.