In March 8 issue, Russell County News by Greg Wells, Managing EditorLeft: Aron Houdini in the Times Journal office on Thursday morning.
Carole Wright was the first to contribute one of “Russell County Hero” story and hers is a man of mystery, and heart.
Wright wrote. “As soon as I read your story this person’s name came to mind for many reasons. I want to nominate Aron Houdini.”
But it isn’t the magic show that prompted Wright’s nomination. The performer has appeared in shows across the country, from smaller venues like the Star Theater in Russell Springs to the Bellterra Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.
Houdini who specializes in escape performances in the style of his hero Harry Houdini also has stadium shows and television appearances to his credit.
It is the magic he manifests in the hearts of others, not his ability to escape from a straight-jacket that has earned him the nomination.
“He volunteers for an organization called CASA, Wright stated. She explained that the group, Court Appointed Special Advocates is a voluntary organization that helps speak for abused and neglected children and assist in getting them the help and homes they need.
Houdini, who was born and raised here had moved to Louisville for a number of years and has recently moved back to this community.
Until he returned to live here full-time he would often visit and one of those visits is another reason Wright has nominated Houdini as a Russell County Hero.
“Last year while visiting his mom in Russell Springs Aron found out there was a homeless family living in the woods below his moms house,” Wright continued. “I went with Aron as he first met them. Instead of turning his back on them Aron tried to get churches involved. When the churches did not believe these people’s story, and thought they were scamers, I saw Aron buy these people groceries, food, water, and other emergency supplies.”
She said that two day’s later Houdini got the family a room in a local hotel for the weekend before he was able to help them find an apartment.
Wright also said the performer visits homeless shelters in Kentucky and gives them a magic show for free.
“I could go on forever about Aron,” wrote Wright. “His girlfriend told us that while he was in Louisville he single handedly cleaned a drug infested park up to make it safe and successful for kids in the neighborhood to have a place to play. He wrote the grant for the money to help the park, he mowed the lawn, took out the trash, planted flowers he done all of it for free. And started a city recognized community watch program.”
Houdini has also been a district representative to the city council in Louisville.
Since his return to the county his civic minded efforts have continued she said, explaining that he is working to bring a national program dedicated to helping abused kids to Russell County.
Wright explains, “If you ask him why he does it, he says every time ‘for kids!’”
Performing hard for “for the kids,” in shows and on television has taken its toll on Houdini, when in 2003 Aron broke his back twice and since then has had many procedures and surgeries, Wright said.
“He keeps going and going helping people not letting his health stop him. He is going to school full time, works doing magic and other jobs, volunteers for many, many programs and he has a 6-year-old daughter who you hear him talk about often.”
She adds that it isn’t just her that considers Houdini a “life-saver.”
“You might be able to call the Arby’s in Somerset and ask them what they think of Aron. He saved a little girl’s life there a few years ago. She was choking and Aron gave her the Heimlich-maneuver.”
She warned the Houdini isn’t likely to talk about himself unless pushed but he is worthy of recognition.
“Like I said I could go on forever, but once you meet this person you will find out how special he really is,” Wright wrote. “He has so many plans to help kids in Russell County, I thought it would be nice to give him a thank you, or a small pat on the back with your article.”The shy showman with a heart of gold
Aron Houdini answered an early morning phone call this week and the showman was momentarily speechless at the notion that he would be named as one of “Russell County Heroes.”
He caught up quickly though as he found he had a venue to promote the children’s advocacy group CASA, which he is trying to get funded in Russell County.
“Its through the Family Court and Russell County has a Family Court now,” Houdini said. “CASA is a federally funded program to assist the courts. They work in the best interest of the kids — it is the most awesome program — they truly work in the best interest of the kids.”
Houdini said he was in the program in Louisville and now while trying to get it started here he is continuing to work in the Pulaski County CASA.
But when the topic of his help of a local homeless family Houdini was speechless again.
“I… wait… Gosh I had no idea she knew about that,” Houdini said when asked about the family he’d helped after being told they were living in the woods.
But when asked if he actually paid for the family to have a place to stay he began stammering again.
“Well I don’t want people to think…” he began. “Well I mean I’m not still paying for anything they just needed some help.”
He explained that the family was able to pay their own way but he wasn’t willing to see them living in the woods for the three weeks it was going to take them to get back on their feet.”
Right now Houdini said he is recovering from his latest surgery and still has a show schedule and classes to keep up with.
He said magic has been tough on his body but he has shows booked for the next two years and isn’t planning to disappoint anyone.
For now he is living again in Russell Springs. His father Charles Sullivan and mother Marlene Walls both still live here.
When confronted with one last tidbit Houdini is again off-balance.
“At Arbys?” he asks. “No way she knows about that!" He said he isn’t sure how he knew to help the girl, “I guess I just remembered what they taught us in High School.”
For remembering his lessons, for trying to help those in trouble and those who others don’t find as deserving, we have to agree that Aron “Sullivan” Houdini is one of our original “Russell County Heroes.”