2:50 pm EDT, April 9, 2015

J.K. Rowling lights the Empire State Building, launches Lumos in US

Author J.K. Rowling lit up the Empire State Building – and New York City – today for her children’s charity.

The Harry Potter author spoke at the lighting ceremony, which marked the launch of Lumos in the United States. In honor of the non-profit organization, of which Rowling is founder and president, New York City’s most recognizable landmark was lit up in Lumos’s colors of purple, blue, and white.

Before the lighting, both Lumos’s CEO Georgette Mulheir and Rowling spoke with quiet passion about the mission they advance through Lumos.

“Lumos is a spell that I created in the Harry Potter books to bring light to very dark and frightening places,” Rowling said. “I think it’s obvious why we chose the name for our organization.”

Watch video of her speech on our Facebook page!

“At Lumos, we seek to shine a light on those children that have been shut away from the world,” Rowling explained. Eight million children around the world live in institutional setting, where they are “sometimes forgotten [and] worst of all separated from families who long to care for them.”

Lumos, which Rowling founded in 2005, aims to end the institutionalization of children in orphanages and other group facilities. These facilities can leave children suffering “profound physical, psychological, and emotional damage that can be irreparable,” Rowling said. “At Lumos, we advocate and help create systems that support children within their families and their communities.”


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Rowling concluded her speech by quoting Albus Dumbledore. “Which I am allowed to do,” said with a smile.

“‘Happiness,'” Rowling quoted, “‘Can be found in the darkest places, if one only remembers to turn on the light.’ And that’s what we’re seeking to do, literally and metaphorically, today.”

Following Rowling’s speech, the author received a statue of the Empire State Building and pulled a lever to light a model of the landmark in purple, blue, and white. The genuine article will glow with these colors from sunset tonight until 2:00 a.m. on April 10.


After the lighting, Rowling ascended to the wind-tossed Observation Deck, where she stood regally against the panoramic view of Manhattan. When reporters commented on the cold, Rowling smiled.

“I’m from Scotland,” she joked.

J.K. Rowling’s own story of triumph against adversity is well-known among her fans, but as the Harry Potter years fade into memory, it becomes ever more clear how determined Rowling is to help others through their own trials. Fans and supporters can learn how to support Lumos at WeAreLumos.com, and follow the organization on Twitter for the latest information.

Photo and video by John Thrasher

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