The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Kids showcased talents on the Big Event stage

Siblings and cancer survivors stole the spotlight in talent show, including a pair of dancers, gymnasts, and closeout from returning singer who led the crowd in heartfelt chorus of “Life is a Highway.”
The Daily Iowan; Photos by Shivansh Ahuja
Molly and Joseph Burken perform during UI Dance Marathon 24 at the IMU on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018. Joseph was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 5. (Shivansh Ahuja/The Daily Iowan)

Brother and sister took the stage in black and white costumes to dance their hearts out to Disturbed’s “The Sound of Silence” as part of an act in the Limelight Kiddo Talent show on the afternoon of Feb. 3.

Joseph Burken was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 5. Later, he’ll walk across the stage as one of 16 kids who are five years’ being chemo free. His tumor, however, will always be with him.

“I’m five years’ chemo free, but I’ll never hit remission,” Joseph, 11, said. His black and white striped pants gave way to a starkly white suit coat.

His sister, Molly, danced alongside him in all black.

The heartwarming performance featured Joseph sweeping Molly into his arms, and the two enacted a routine in which they repeatedly came together to touch hands as if praying, only to draw apart to opposite sides of the stage.

At one point in the performance, Joseph dropped to his knees at Molly’s feet, banging his fists on the ground.

The sibling act was one of six performances on the main stage in the IMU Main Lounge, said Addison Stewart, a member of operations team running the talent show.

“The kiddo talent show is a chance for the kiddos to be a star, and up on that big stage, we can make them feel like they’re the only one who matters that day,” Stewart said.

Another pair of kids cartwheeled across the stage in a show of gymnastic prowess. The two girls, Evalyn and Ensly Clark, performed for their brother, Ethyn, who has leukemia.

“He doesn’t always like us, sometimes he kicks us out of his room,” said Evalyn, 7. When asked if she still likes him, she nodded shyly.

“He’s got a lava lamp in his room, and it turns red and all different colors,” she said.

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About the Contributor
Sarah Watson
Sarah Watson, Executive Editor


Email: [email protected] Twitter: @K_5mydearwatson Sarah Watson is the executive editor at The Daily Iowan. She's in her fourth year at the University of Iowa, studying journalism and political science. Previously, she coordinated election and political coverage as a three-semester politics editor, and has reported on student government and the statehouse. Last spring, she stepped into the role of the DI's managing news editor. She's an advocate for transparent government and is committed to making journalism work better for people of all identities. She also thinks pineapple on pizza is a good idea. Email her for a discussion.