By Charity L. Cohen
Special to The Alamance News
Everyone dreams of prom night being an evening to remember. This dream will come true for many individuals next Friday, February 10, thanks to two area churches.
Westside Fellowship in Elon and Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Graham will host this year’s “Night to Shine,” a prom night experience for people with special needs that night between 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Night to Shine is sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation and is a free event for people ages 14 and older.
All guests will be given the “royal treatment,” complete with hair and makeup stations, shoe shining areas, limousine rides, corsages and boutonnieres, a catered dinner, karaoke, prom favors and a dance floor with music.
All of these complimentary services and amenities are made possible through contributions and generous donations from the Tim Tebow Foundation, Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, Westside Fellowship, and several local businesses.
“Sometimes at events with a dance floor, people are bashful about dancing, but at this event no one cares and it’s really, really cool to watch any anxiety or worry or concern just float away for a few hours,” Leo Quinn, Coordinator of Youth Ministries at Blessed Sacrament Church, said.
This event offers a one-on-one experience for all guests where they will be paired with a personal chaperone, or “buddy,” to enjoy the night with. Each chaperone is a volunteer from the community who has been background checked and approved to help out with the event. Security and medical personnel will also be present for the evening.
Parents and caregivers are allowed to stay with their guests at the prom, but they are also invited to spend their evening in the “resting room” which offers a catered meal, painting, video games and television entertainment.
At the end of the prom, each guest will be crowned king or queen and celebrated.
Pastor Caleb Massey, associate pastor at Westside Fellowship and the organizer of this event, noticed a need for support of people with disabilities and their families. He recalled volunteering with Night to Shine as a college student in Atlanta, Georgia. The impact he saw as a volunteer in college is the same impact he wants to bring to the community here.
“We’re not doing this for Westside, we’re doing this because we think this is a special event that allows everyone to feel loved,” Massey said.
The Night to Shine prom night experience was created to celebrate and advocate for people with disabilities, centering on God’s love.
“That’s really what it’s about,” Massey said. “It’s about people, of course, coming to have fun, but also seeing the love of Christ that the church can show.”
Night to Shine is a worldwide movement that began in 2015. This year’s Night to Shine will be the first in-person prom night since 2020; it has been suspended for the past two years due to the Covid pandemic.
“We’ve been able to adapt over the last couple years but we can’t wait to be back together in person to cheer for every guest as they walk the red carpet, dance the night away with their friends, crown them as a king or queen of the prom and most importantly, tell every single one of them that their life has purpose and they are loved by us and the God of this universe,” Tim Tebow, founder of the Tim Tebow Foundation, says.
Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church has hosted this event for more than five years, and they are excited to host another in-person Night to Shine experience after their two-year virtual period.
Blessed Sacrament will host the prom away from their church, at Best Western Plus on Huffman Mill Road in Burlington. They currently have 10 registered guests.
Westside Fellowship will host their prom at the church. Westside Fellowship is anticipating around 80 guests to participate; they currently have 65 guests and 125 volunteers registered. There is no deadline for guests to register. If a guest isn’t able to register online prior to the event, they are invited to show up next Friday night for an in-person registration.
For more information on the Night to Shine hosted by Westside Fellowship, as well as guest and volunteer registration, visit westsidefellowship.org and search for Night to Shine under the “ministries” tab.
For information on Blessed Sacrament’s Night to Shine, contact the church.