Ricky Boone: An Inspiring Story

Ricky and Miss Marcie

Ricky Boone is one of the regulars at the South Carolina
Association of Magicians Convention but there is almost nothing
“regular” about him. Despite his handicaps and set-backs, Mr. Boone has
pushed on not only with a sense of humor and love for magic, but also
with a real talent to truly entertain audiences.

Heroes
come in all shapes and sizes. For example, take Ricky Boone, a
professional magician who lives in western North Carolina. A remarkable
person, he has risen above physical disabilities to succeed as a
performer and business owner. Through it all he has been guided and
strengthened by family and friends, an unwavering faith in God, and a
passion for stage magic.

Ricky was born forty-five years ago in
the tiny town of Burnsville, North Carolina, in the heart of the
Appalachian Mountains. As an infant he developed a rare bone disease
that prevented his body from developing fully. Combined with severe
scoliosis, it has kept him in a wheelchair for the last four decades.

His
parents decided early on that their son would have every opportunity
they could possibly give him. With that in mind they moved to
Asheville, NC in 1973, so he could attend a school for physically
challenged students. He was thirteen at the time. “Meeting the school
principal was the turning point in my life,” he relates. The first time
he saw the man, he rode onto campus on a motorcycle, pulled up to Ricky
and some other students, introduced himself, and then entertained them
for several minutes by doing coin tricks.

“I got hooked on magic
right there,” Ricky says. This began a long friendship between him and
the principal. The school official encouraged his interest in magic.
Through long hours of practice he mastered illusion after illusion, and
in his teen years began doing shows. By graduation he was an
accomplished magician.

After high school he entered college,
eventually earning degrees in accounting, computer programming and
small business administration. “Every time I was about to graduate they
would come up with another major that interested me, and back to school
I’d go,” he says with a smile. After finishing his studies a local
company approached him with a job offer, and for the next nine years he
was a bookkeeper and assistant manager for the firm. “I liked the
people I worked with, and the pay was good,” he relates, “but I always
felt there was something missing in my life.” That something was magic.

Ricky’s
chance to return to his first love came when the company he worked for
closed. He used his savings to open Magic Central, his shop in
Weaverville, NC. He also began to line up shows. Eventually he was
touring the East Coast from Florida to Massachusetts. “We performed in
some interesting places,” he says, “from churches and schools to seedy
bars on the wrong side of town.”

One memorable moment came after
a show he did at a tavern in Waynesville, NC. As he and his assistants
were packing up his equipment, a burly, hostile looking man approached
them. He stood in front of Ricky, gave him a long look, then reached
out to shake his hand. “I just wanted to tell you God spoke to me
during…

Ricky and Miss Marcie

Ricky Boone is one of the regulars at the South Carolina
Association of Magicians Convention but there is almost nothing
“regular” about him. Despite his handicaps and set-backs, Mr. Boone has
pushed on not only with a sense of humor and love for magic, but also
with a real talent to truly entertain audiences.

Heroes
come in all shapes and sizes. For example, take Ricky Boone, a
professional magician who lives in western North Carolina. A remarkable
person, he has risen above physical disabilities to succeed as a
performer and business owner. Through it all he has been guided and
strengthened by family and friends, an unwavering faith in God, and a
passion for stage magic.

Ricky was born forty-five years ago in
the tiny town of Burnsville, North Carolina, in the heart of the
Appalachian Mountains. As an infant he developed a rare bone disease
that prevented his body from developing fully. Combined with severe
scoliosis, it has kept him in a wheelchair for the last four decades.

His
parents decided early on that their son would have every opportunity
they could possibly give him. With that in mind they moved to
Asheville, NC in 1973, so he could attend a school for physically
challenged students. He was thirteen at the time. “Meeting the school
principal was the turning point in my life,” he relates. The first time
he saw the man, he rode onto campus on a motorcycle, pulled up to Ricky
and some other students, introduced himself, and then entertained them
for several minutes by doing coin tricks.

“I got hooked on magic
right there,” Ricky says. This began a long friendship between him and
the principal. The school official encouraged his interest in magic.
Through long hours of practice he mastered illusion after illusion, and
in his teen years began doing shows. By graduation he was an
accomplished magician.

After high school he entered college,
eventually earning degrees in accounting, computer programming and
small business administration. “Every time I was about to graduate they
would come up with another major that interested me, and back to school
I’d go,” he says with a smile. After finishing his studies a local
company approached him with a job offer, and for the next nine years he
was a bookkeeper and assistant manager for the firm. “I liked the
people I worked with, and the pay was good,” he relates, “but I always
felt there was something missing in my life.” That something was magic.

Ricky’s
chance to return to his first love came when the company he worked for
closed. He used his savings to open Magic Central, his shop in
Weaverville, NC. He also began to line up shows. Eventually he was
touring the East Coast from Florida to Massachusetts. “We performed in
some interesting places,” he says, “from churches and schools to seedy
bars on the wrong side of town.”

One memorable moment came after
a show he did at a tavern in Waynesville, NC. As he and his assistants
were packing up his equipment, a burly, hostile looking man approached
them. He stood in front of Ricky, gave him a long look, then reached
out to shake his hand. “I just wanted to tell you God spoke to me
during your show tonight,” the gentleman told him, “and He said that if
you could make your dreams come true then so could I. You’ve inspired
me to turn my life around, and I wanted to thank you.” Ricky shook his
hand proudly. “It was one of many times that people have been helped by
watching me perform. Things like that make me realize why I was meant
to do this,” he says.

These days Ricky does an average of four
shows a month. Many of them revolve around a theme requested by the
client. For example, he often performs for businesspeople, and he
designs tricks that involve or promote their company’s products. Other
common venues are church and non-profit groups, during which his
illusions are used to illustrate moral and spiritual truths.

One challenge he faces is the misconceptions a few people have about magic.

“They
sometimes think I’m doing voodoo or some kind of black art,” he says,
“but real magic has nothing to do with the Devil. It’s all about
sleight of hand as well as sleight of tongue. The jokes I tell, the
gestures I use, they’re all part of the act.”

Ricky has faced
health related trials all his life, but each one he endures strengthens
his faith in God. “I remember one night I gave one of my best shows
before a great crowd,” he says, “and felt on top of the world. A few
hours later I suffered a heart attack. The doctor who treated me said,
‘Mr. Boone, I’ll be honest. You’re not going to make it.’ Several days
later, as I recovered, they said ‘Ricky, you might make it, but you’ll
be bed ridden the rest of your life.’ As I kept getting better I was
warned that I would never perform magic again. The following year I did
more shows than ever before.”

Of all the close calls he has had,
one stands out as especially notable. “I was sitting there,” he says,
referring to the large glass window at the front of his store. Just
outside of it is the parking lot. “Suddenly I had an urge to watch
television,” he continues. “That was strange, because even though I
kept a TV here in those days I very rarely watched it, and there was
nothing on that day I wanted to see.” Nonetheless he followed the
impulse and wheeled himself to the corner of the building where he kept
his small set.

A few minutes later a woman pulled up in front of
his store, and as she was turning off her car she stepped on the gas
instead of the brake. The vehicle leaped over the curb and plowed
directly though the window and into the shop. “If I hadn’t had that
weird desire to watch TV I would have been directly in that car’s
path,” he shares, “and I wouldn’t be here today.”

When not
running his store or doing shows Ricky attends church, visits with
friends and takes part in local activities. Despite his physical and
other challenges he remains cheerful. “I feel like I’m one of the
luckiest persons alive,” he says. His plans for the future are to keep
doing what he loves. “I was put here to perform magic,” he says, “and
I’m not done yet.”

Check out Mr. Boone’s web site here.You can visit his store on the web by pointing your browser here.Meet him and the other great magicians of the Carolinas at the SCAM Convention.

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