This Young Football Fan's Unique Prosthetic Eye Makes Him The Coolest Kid In The Stands

"His friends and classmates all think it is very cool."

Some people show their support for their favorite sports team with a jersey, a hat, or one of those foam fingers — but, for one young cancer survivor, he reps his favorite team with something unique to him: a prosthetic eye.

At the age of 2, Colton Barker was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare cancer of the retina that shows up mostly in young children, that resulted in him having a life-saving procedure to have his right eye removed. Now, eight years later, Colton is still cancer-free.

Courtesy Justin Barker
Courtesy Justin Barker

This cool kid from Sioux City, Iowa was recently gifted a prosthetic eye created by his ocularist, Vaune Bulgarelli, that highlights something really important to him: a Tigerhawk logo to represent the University of Iowa's football team, the Hawkeyes. 

Colton's dad, Justin Barker, told A Plus in an email that his son's reaction was "priceless" and that he was "totally shocked," "amazed," and "so excited" when it was presented to him.

Courtesy Justin Barker
Courtesy Justin Barker

"His friends and classmates all think it is very cool," Justin added. "They know Colton as an outgoing kid with a true sense of individuality. Colton has been very open and honest with his peers — including taking a prosthetic eye to 'show and tell' so that his friends didn't see him as different."

It's this attitude that makes Justin note that Colton has "never been afraid to stick out in a crowd." In fact, Justin said getting attention has made Colton "enjoy the fact that people know his story and see him as a strong young man." This sports-themed prosthetic eye only amps up the confidence factor.

Courtesy Justin Barker
Courtesy Justin Barker

Justin's favorite memory of Colton and the Hawkeyes harkens back to when he was chosen as the University of Iowa Children's Hospital Kids Captain on September 19, 2015.

"Colton was honored at midfield before kickoff and to see 70,000 people standing and cheering for my son and his victory over cancer was something that brings tears to my eyes still today," Justin remembered. "I never dreamed of being on the field at Kinnick Stadium, and to share that moment with my wife and children was unbelievable."

Courtesy Justin Barker
Courtesy Justin Barker

Having a child who is this self-confident and who has overcome what life has thrown Colton's way has made Justin "incredibly proud" to call him his son. And, in the end, what else can a father ask for?

"He is compassionate towards others and is a caring soul," Justin concluded. "He doesn't like to see people hurting, and goes out of his way to include everyone and try to put a smile on their faces. His attitude is infectious and he always sees the best in people."

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