A ‘Night to Shine’ for those with special needs

The Bridge Church hosts prom event Feb. 10


Roughly 350 people gathered at The Bridge Church on Feb. 10 to take part in “Night to Shine,” a prom experience for people with special needs that was made possible through donations by The Bridge Church, private donations, 200 volunteers and some guidance from the Tim Tebow Foundation.

Everything about the night was complimentary to its honored guests, from the limousine rides for each of 70 prom celebrant to the red carpet treatment once they arrived. Once inside, each attendee — aged 14 and up — had access to hair and makeup stations, shoe shining areas, corsages and boutonnieres, a catered dinner, karaoke, prom favors and, of course, a dance floor. At the end of the evening, each prom goer was crowned king or queen of the prom. The honored guests were paired up with a buddy, and their parents were invited to attend.

“We really wanted to let this community know that God loves them and we love them as well,” said Pastor Dan Quagliata of The Bridge Church. “This segment of our population goes unnoticed or is forgotten about, and we wanted to do just the opposite—we wanted to let them know that God has an unbelievable plan for their lives.”

The Tim Tebow Foundation said in a written statement that this year’s event was held in 350 churches worldwide, and that next year’s is already set to take place in all 50 states and 10 countries. Last year, Night to Shine was enjoyed by 32,000 guests in 201 host churches, with 75,000 volunteers.

Many of the evening’s guests were from nearby communities and organizations, including Rockville Centre’s “Backyard Players”, which provides activities like theatre presentations, Zumba and summer camps for teens and young adults with special needs.

“We are honored to be able to work with so many churches across the county and around the world to impact the lives of people with special needs,” said Erik Dellenback, executive director of the Tim Tebow Foundation. “Our prayer is that this event will continue to change the face of Valentine’s Day weekend from simply a celebration of love, to a celebration of God’s love for people with special needs.”