Chad Juros, a magician whose resumé includes past appearances at big-time venues such as the White House and Strawberry Days, has another important show this week before his return engagement in Glenwood Springs.
He’ll perform Thursday afternoon at Roundup River Ranch near Gypsum — a camp for children with chronic or life-threatening conditions. Such shows mean a lot to Juros because he survived childhood leukemia. Twice.
“It’s everything that I live for,” he said in a telephone interview. “I want to be an inspiration for kids to find that something special in their life that takes their mind off the negatives.”
Now 26, Juros, who lives in Philadelphia and has an aunt in Glenwood, was first diagnosed with leukemia at age 3. He relapsed at age 7.
He needed a bone marrow transplant, but no match was found.
“As a result, doctors decided to try an experimental protocol,” says his website, chadjuros.com. “For the next 17 months Chad lived as an inpatient in the cancer ward of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.” His survival chances at one point fell to 5 percent as he endured chemotherapy, numerous surgeries and transfusions.
Juros said in the phone interview that his father had entertained him with magic tricks the first time he was sick. During the long hospitalization, he couldn’t go outside.
“So my father started teaching me little tricks,” he said. “Then we started going to magic stores and getting more tricks. By the end of the 17 months, I had a whole show going for me. Doctors and nurses watched me do the show, and sometimes doctors would ask why everyone was in my room instead of another room.”
As his health returned, he performed at schools and libraries. “I fell in love with the art of magic,” he said.
He lost his father, though, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor the year Juros left the hospital.
Family connections remain for Juros. His Glenwood Springs aunt, Susan Goldberg, sees him regularly and was a frequent presence at the hospital when he was will.
“It’s my proudest moment” to watch him perform, Goldberg said. “I love that he’s here today and not sick.”
Juros’ mother acts as his manager, getting his story to the office of then-first lady Laura Bush, which led to three invitations to perform at the White House Easter Egg Roll during the Bush administration. Laura Bush used Juros’ story in a speech advocating for child cancer sufferers.
Juros regularly does his show for sick children at camps like Roundup River Ranch or at Ronald McDonald houses and Gilda’s Club groups. He doesn’t talk much about his own childhood battle, he said, because he wants to provide a happy diversion.
That’s his goal at Strawberry Days.
“I want people to be inspired,” he said, noting that his show is geared toward adults and children. “I want people to find their passion.”
That’s exactly what Juros did for his aunt Susan.
She worked in corporate America much of her career, but after Juros’ illness has volunteered to combat youth cancer and now works for Insight to Impact in Glenwood, an organization that works to improve services to at-risk children.
“He’s defined my life,” Goldberg said of her nephew. “He doesn’t know it, but he’s defined my life.”
That’s no small trick.