As Jayme Katis walked through the halls of Langley High School this year, she was abruptly stopped one day by a freshmen girl who had something to give her. It was a pack of cards. Jayme knew exactly what to do with the pack of cards; she took them straight to her brother Chuck.
“When she did that, I realized what we were doing was connecting with other people.” Jayme said.
Chuck, 18, with the aid of his twin sister, Jayme, is the founder of “The Magic of Miracles”, a nonprofit organization that brings the joy of magic tricks to young cancer patients undergoing treatment at hospitals in Fairfax, Arlington and Maryland.
Chuck's interest in magic was ignited on a trip to London when he was eight, where the art of magic caught his eye. Seemingly Harry Potter-esque, he soon began to develop his own abilities as a magician and became quite good at it. Magic allowed him “to help ease pressure from school and swim.” As Chuck approached his senior year at Langley, he realized his ability to conjure enjoyment could also help others ease the pressures in their life.
He recognized what magic could do for people in distress. “Magic brings astonishment; it allows you, for that particular moment, to forget the worries in your life. Our goal was to help them lose focus and just smile,” Chuck said.
With their goal in mind, and their mom’s “little extra push,” the Katis twins made their vision a reality. They now have made around five trips to different hospitals.
This was not the first time Chuck and Jayme have decided to give back either. Around the time they were in elementary school, they created the “Beanies for Angels” program that gave fire and rescue squads 3,300 Beanie Babies in order to help kids feel better when they were injured or in an accident.
“When you can impact someone, it makes your life easier,” Jayme said as she contemplated why they decided to give back at such a young age. “It’s all about attitude,” Chuck added.
Although community service has been such a big part of their life, they have also been quite busy in the pool. Both were star swimmers for Langley’s swim team where they racked up several awards and honors.
This fall they are off to college. Chuck, who will swim at Harvard University and study business, is a three-time All-American, a Washington Post two-time All-Met 1st Team selection, national record holder in the 100-meter breaststroke and 2011 state champion in the 200-meter IM with state record time.
Jayme, who will swim at ACC powerhouse Virginia Tech and study biology, was this past year’s Regional Champion in the 200m freestyle, state finalist in the 200m and 100m freestyles, and was a second team All-Met athlete this past year.
"I would say the most impressive thing is not their swimming or academic abilities but the people they have become," said Joanne Katis, mother of the twins.
Even with their impressive accomplishments, both Jayme and Chuck are humbled by their success. When asked about the recognition from all of the awards, Jayme said: “We are not focused on the awards, but rather to inspire and help the younger kids.” Before Jayme could continue, Chuck chimed in: “You don’t realize the impact you can have on younger athletes.” Both looked at each other and smiled – it must be a twin thing.
Shawn Ghuman is a 2010 Langley High School graduate. He did not know the Katis twins while at Langley.