Singing, dancing, stand-up comedy and more at Whitworth’s 2nd annual Capernaum talent show

by Austriauna Brooks | Staff Writer

The Second Annual Young Life Capernaum Talent show featured 24 acts of singing, dancing, reciting Bible verses and showing off crafts.

The talent show is an explosion of joy that delights the heart of God and draws more people into the unconditional love of God, senior Shannon McNamara said. As team leaders, McNamara and Maryann Zmuda do the majority of the planning for the event. Preparation includes talking to parents and performers organizing the lineup and working with the theater department.

“It’s fun to see them be acknowledged and recognized for how gifted and talented they are,” McNamara said. “My friends with disabilities don’t let their disabilities define who they are, but rather embrace them and let God define who they are in a way that reminds me I am just as broken and in need of God every moment.”

Capernaum is a Young Life branch for kids and young adults with disabilities that began in 1986 in San Jose, California. Spokane Capernaum is a chance for people with special needs to meet people and experience Young Life through monthly events. McNamara has been a Capernaum leader for four years and a team leader for the past two years.

“I love these people,” McNamara said. “These people have changed my life. They have loved me so well over the past four years. We need these people in the Christian community. They are an essential part of the body of Christ.

Junior Grace Klinkhammer has been a leader for Capernaum for three years. Being a part of Capernaum and helping out with the talent show is a lot of joy, she said.

“I love the people,” Klinkhammer said. “It has been cool to see the depth of relationships that we have.”

The moment that stole the show, and displayed the depth of relationships in Capernaum, was when Lacey got too shy to perform “Part of Your World” on stage but her friends, Liz and Britt, went onto the stage to encourage her to sing. As a Capernaum leader that was junior Kyla Parkins’ favorite part of the show because the performers did that without being asked, she said.

“We really are a family,” Parkins said. “We are here for each other and they love each other so much that [moment] inspires me. It even brought tears to my eyes.”

This was also the favorite moment for junior Felicity Roe. She went to the talent show because it was a good opportunity for Whitworth students to get out of the “Pinecone Curtain” and reach out in the Spokane community in a different way, she said.

“I loved it,” Roe said. “I thought it was really brave that they have the gusto to go on stage and show their talents. It was so cool that so many people came.”

Sarah Bade is a part of the Capernaum program when she is not working at Other Mothers, a used clothing store for premature babies to adult women. She sang “Somewhere over the Rainbow” from the movie “The Wizard of Oz” because it is one of her favorite movies. She enjoys being in the Capernaum program and being a part of the talent show because of the experience she gets from the people around her, she said.

“We have lots of talents,” she said. “We all love it. It’s really fun and I like hanging out with my friends.”

Amy Cinkovich sang “Best Day of My Life” by American Authors for the talent show. Being a part of the talent show is a good feeling, she said.

“It means a lot to me to be a part of [the talent show],” she said. “I want people to shine their life. I love Young Life. It has been a really good experience for me. It is a time to think about God and be His.”

Josh Coffey has been a part of the Capernaum program for four years. He sang “Tattooed Heart” by Ariana Grande because she is one of his favorite singers and she blew him a kiss at one of her concerts, he said. When asked why he chose that song, he asked, “Why not?” Being a part of the talent show is a celebration after finishing his botox surgery that helps with his muscles, he said.

Sophomore Klaus Hanley went to the talent show last year but has been a leader at Capernaum since September 2016 after he was compelled to be a part of the program, he said. He heard about the program through McNamara and her brother Jake McNamara.

“People think that people with special needs are seen with having restrictions but their view on life shows everyone how joyful they are even with all of the restrictions that God has given,” Hanley said. “Something that is important to me is investing in the people that are marginalized. All of these people are consistently marginalized and often forgotten about. It’s really cool to see how talented they are and to be able to show so many people how talented they really are.”

If you are interested in being a part of Young Life Capernaum, email Shannon McNamara at

Contact Austriauna Brooks at