For many young people, Prom is a night of fun, dancing, games, music, limo rides, and the crowning of the school’s Prom King and Queen. There are some people, however, who do not get to attend their Prom. It can be for various reasons, but the majority miss Prom at their schools because of a special need or disability.
For the second year, individuals with special needs have a chance to attend a Prom night event, with all the perks!
In 2018, Heartland Church was nominated to host the annual Night to Shine Prom event, sponsored in part by the Tim Tebow Foundation, where people with special needs can come to a Prom event where they are the spotlight. The event is held the Friday night before Valentine’s Day. This year that night will be February 8th.
In the weeks leading up to the event, participants have the opportunity to choose dress apparel from local donations given to Heartland Church for the event. Heartland Church works with local dress stores in our area to ensure everyone who wants to dress up will be able to. Men’s Warehouse also works with them to help with dressing up the gentlemen who want to spruce up for their Prom.
There are days of preparation and decorating done by many volunteers, and they work tirelessly to make the night the most special night of the participants’ year.
When they arrive at the event, the participants sign in and get partnered up with a “Buddy” who is there to ensure their evening is the best possible. There are volunteers who help with makeup, hair, shoe shining, and other things to make the night perfect.
There is a dinner held in the main building, and after the dinner the participants are led to the outside, where they get to enjoy a “limo experience” to drive them over to the Youth Center on the other side of the parking lot. There, the participants will walk the “Red Carpet” and have a professional photograph taken of them as they enter the dance hall for the dance portion of the night.
Dinner and dancing are not the only things that happen at the Night to Shine event. There are games, crafts, and a “quiet room” for guests to retire to if they need a moment to regroup from overstimulation if that occurs.
There is a Crowning Ceremony at the event, where every participant is Crowned King and Queen of the Prom. It is a special time for each individual. Bryan Phelps, Pastor of Children and Families at Heartland says, “We want to affirm each guest, and affirm their families and caregivers as well.” Heartland Church works closely with people who have special needs in our community. To them, this is a ministry, and they are passionate about it. Bryan also said there is a room for the families and caregivers to go if they would like to participate in the event as well. “It is a place where they can connect and share their stories and help each other as well.”
On the night of their first event, Heartland Church had 127 participants attend the Night to Shine. This year, they are hoping to reach 150 participants.
Night to Shine is an event sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation, and held in various places around the world, with their greatest number of these events in the USA. Their first year they had 44 churches participate in the event, helping people with special needs attend their own Prom, and since then there have been over 500 churches participate in the event.
Heartland Church wants to make this night amazing, and it is a lot of work. They welcome any volunteers to join in the event’s planning, preparation, and during the night itself, to help make this a memorable experience for every participant attending.
Anyone can volunteer or contribute to the event. All donations of formal apparel and every helping hand is welcomed with open arms and hearts at Heartland Church.
There will be professional photographers at the event, capturing everything from the moment the first participant arrives until the last participant leaves. This is an event that they have looked forward to for months, and now it is upon us. The excitement is contagious.
For anyone who would like to share in the joy of Night to Shine at Heartland Church on February 8, 2019, you can go to their website at heartlandworship.com or call Bryan Phelps at 270-534-1400. You can also stop by the church itself to speak with anyone about the event and share your time or donations with them there. We are looking forward to an amazing event and can’t wait to see everyone!