Kimberly Burk’s nephew and niece were rescued 12 years ago from a crowded, drug-endangered home where methamphetamine and physical abuse were commonplace.
When authorities arrived on the scene, they thought 11-month-old Zavey was dead. “Luckily,” as his paternal grandmother and now guardian, Cheryl Burk, says, “he was a failure-to-thrive baby.”
“The found him lying on a bed, the size of a 6-month-old baby,” Cheryl Burk recalled. “He was really underweight, and he couldn’t sit up. When we got him he could only drink two ounces of formula at a time. His mother had been giving him chewed-up food for him to eat, even though he had no teeth.”
Aside from a broken leg suffered in a soccer game, Zavey is now an extremely happy 13-year-old boy who likes to clown around and play sports. His sister, Shelby, 15, has memories of those times and has become an advocate for the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children, a Westminster-based nonprofit that helped rescue the children from the situation and place them with their grandparents.
“I was living with my maternal grandmother, mother, father, baby brother, two of my half-sisters, an aunt, a bunch of cousins, a Rottweiler and a pit bull in a tiny, two-bedroom, one-bathroom house in Thornton,” she said. “At times we weren’t fed, bathed or dressed.
“I’m just really lucky to be able to live with my grandparents and that my brother is able to live here too. My situation is a lot better. … I feel like I don’t really have grandparents because they have kind of filled the space of being my parents.”
Shelby, who gives talks on behalf of the NADEC, aspires to work for the DEA or as a K-9 police officer someday in order to help save other children from situations similar to her own. She has no relationship with her mother anymore, but sees her father — who since left the situation — two or three times a month.
Shelby’s aunt Kimberly, somewhat of an older sister to the kids, has organized a 5K run/walk to be held this Mother’s Day — May 12 — at 9 a.m. at Northridge Community Park in Highlands Ranch to help raise proceeds for the NADEC.
“I really want people to know how vital the alliance is to our community and how important it is,” Kimberly said. “They’ve been very active in my family’s lives and helped get the kids into a better situation so that they could be healthy and prosper.
“The event itself will be very family-friendly. It’s not just about the run. There will be lots of food and games, a DJ and more. People of all ages can come to walk or run or they can just come out and support the other runners who will be there.”
For more information on the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children or to donate to the organization, please visit www.nationaldec.org. For more information or to register for the Mother’s Day 5K, please visit www.momsday5k.com.
About the race
What: Mom’s Day 5K
Where: Northridge Community Park, 8800 S. Broadway, Highlands Ranch
When: 9 a.m. May 12
To register: Visit the website below or show up, starting at 8 a.m. May 12.
How much: Free for children 6 and under, $20 for ages 7-17 and $40 for adults. Free T-shirt with paid registration. Children’s T-shirts are $10.