Lumos: The Spell that Made a Drizzly Thursday Magical


“At Lumos we seek to shine a light on those children that have been shut away from the world, sometimes forgotten, worst of all separated from families who long to care for them,” said JK Rowling at the Empire State building Thursday. (Cara McGoogan/NY City Lens)


On a grey and drizzly New York afternoon, tourists were chattering and chuntering their way up and down the Empire State building Thursday when the lobby came to a brief halt. “What’re all the paparazzi doing?” said a passerby. They were poised, cameras at the ready, like Rita Skeeter with her quick quotes quill.

JK Rowling, creator of the Harry Potter books, stepped out in front of the white flash of cameras. “Lumos is a spell that I created with the Harry Potter books,” she said, “To bring light to very dark and frightening places.” And Lumos is also the name of her organization, which plans to find homes for the eight million institutionalized children globally by 2050. Thursday marked the launch of the British charity’s U.S. branch.


The crowd of reporters followed Rowling upstairs for a photo opportunity where Rowling was met with a blustery 86th floor gale. (Cara McGoogan/NY City Lens)

Lumos plans to use this launch to fundraise and change donating patterns. “What we want to do is make sure that philanthropists are doing the best they possibly can with their money,” said Lumos CEO Georgette Mulheir. “To ensure that people move away from giving to orphanages and instead give to family and community based services.”

Under the management of Mulheir and Rowling, Lumos has a strong backing and high ambitions. Rowling donated to Lumos all proceeds from her book The Tales of Beedle the Bard – a short children’s fiction that forms the basis of the action in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. This raised more than $2 million for the charity.


Rowling squinted underneath the flares of cameras and calls to “look this way,” as she raised a lever and turned the Empire State blue, white and purple. (Cara McGoogan/NY City Lens)


Rowling finished her announcement with words from one of the great intellectuals of our time. “To quote Albus Dumbledore, which I am allowed to do, ‘Happiness can be found in the darkest places, if one only remembers to turn on the light.’”