Church gives guests a night to remember

PAT CROSSLEY/Sun-Gazette Correspondent Roger Turner and his buddy for the night, Christina Steinbacher-Reed, can’t contain their excitement as they walk the red carpet.

Guests at the Night to Shine prom were greeted with high-fives and a round of applause as they walked the red carpet to begin their evening of dancing, feasting and reigning as kings and queens of the prom.

Held at Community Baptist Church on Route 87 Friday night, the prom is sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation and offers people with special needs a prom night experience.

The event here was one of 540 held across the country and in 16 countries.

According to Tara Michaels, who co-chaired the prom with Erica Logan, 135 guests attended with over 300 volunteers working in various jobs to make the evening run smoothly.

Sixteen committee heads began meeting in August to plan for the event, which is funded entirely by the foundation, Michaels said. People in the community are willing to donate their time and goods to help with the decorations, she added.

Guests are given the full prom treatment from corsages for the girls to shoe shines for the guys. There are hair and make-up stations and, of course, the red carpet. There is a game room and a photo

booth and a karaoke room for singing the night away. A disc jockey emcees the evening and keeps the dance music going non-stop. For those wanting to take a break from the activities inside, trolley and limo rides are available throughout the evening.

Each guest is assigned a buddy who escorts them for the evening while parents and caregivers are in a room of their own where they can watch their child on a live video feed.

Pat Turner, whose son Roger was a first-time prom guest, sat at a table with some of the parents and caregivers of members of the Lycoming Special Olympics Athletes who attended the event. Turner said she was thrilled her son was able to attend.

“It’s just so well run. People come with enthusiasm and they have more enthusiasm when they leave because of their leadership,” she said.

For Amanda Brown, like many of the guests, it was the third year she attended the Night to Shine.

“Amanda absolutely loves being here,” her mother Donna Brown said. “She was extremely excited to come tonight. She was all about doing her makeup and her manicure.”

According to her dad, Scott Brown, Amanda loves to go to dances.

One reason he cited for wanting to bring his daughter to this dance is the people at the church.

“There are just wonderful people here,” he said. “We just can’t say enough about them. They’re just fantastic people.”

“They have opened their arms and their hearts,” his wife added.

“I think if you have a kid with special needs you get real acute at picking out the phonies,” Nancy Regopoulos, seated at the table with the Browns, said. “There’s no phonies here.”

“They are sincere,” Scott Brown agreed.

“They walk away with just as much as our kiddos do,” Donna Brown added.