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Calvary Harvest Fields to Host 'Night to Shine' for People with Special Needs

by and on January 22, 2019 5:00 AM

On Feb. 8, Calvary Harvest Fields, 150 Harvest Fields Drive in Boalsburg, will host an exciting night for people 14 and older with special needs. This will be the fifth year, and second locally, for the Night to Shine event — a prom with everything that goes along with it.

On this one night, more than 500 churches around the world will come together to host Night to Shine for approximately 90,000 honored guests through the support of 175,000 volunteers.

Churches in all the sites in the U.S. and abroad will be filling their chosen venues with volunteers, the attendees and their families.

There have been many people involved in making this possible. The Tim Tebow Foundation provides a Night to Shine manual and a Night to Shine prom kit — complete with decorations and gifts for the guests. A Tim Tebow Foundation staff person provides guidance and support. The foundation also has committed millions of dollars to help churches that need help with hosting.

Since the girls will want to look their best, some organizations have made dresses available for reduced prices or for free. Bald Area High School, 751 Eagle Valley Road, Bellefonte, will offer dresses. Call the school at (814) 355-4868 for times and dates. Dresses are also still available by calling Lisa Lesher at (814) 280-1273.

For the gentlemen, Men’s Wearhouse, 201 Patriot Lane, State College, offers discounted rates to allow them to dress like a king. Contact the Men’s Wearhouse at (814) 237-0672.

To achieve the goal of having the attendees feel like queens and kings, Lesher, who spearheaded the event in Boalsburg, said, “There are so many people involved and it takes all these volunteers to make it happen.

“I wanted to tackle this event ever since I saw a video during a Tim Tebow bible study five years ago,” said Lesher. “His enthusiasm and the joy on the faces of the people attending the prom was the inspiration to bring Night to Shine here.”

Every guest will come into this event on a red carpet and the friendly crowd and paparazzi will welcome them. Once inside, guests will have star-like treatment with hair and makeup stations, shoe-shining areas and places to pick up boutonnieres. A catered dinner, karaoke, prom favors, limousine rides and dancing will follow. It all leads up to the grand finale — crowning a king and queen of the prom.

All volunteers, vendors and individuals are subject to background checks. A respite room will be available where the attendees can take a break or find a calm place to deal with uncomfortable feelings or anxiety. The room is also made available for parents of the attendees in order that they might step away and relax from the constant vigilance they maintain with their children.

Each attendee is assigned a buddy who will stay with them throughout the evening to help ensure that attendees have a memorable and pleasant evening.

At this time, there are more than 250 volunteers signed up, but more could be used. The guest list, according to Lesher, is at 131 and there is room for 150 prom guests. She wants people to be aware of the enormous amount of time the team leaders and all the volunteers contribute to the success of the night. She said there was no way it could be done without each of the volunteers.

Krista Espinoza spoke of all the joy she saw as she volunteered last year on the red carpet. Her brother has Down syndrome and attended last year.

“I was so happy to see the joy on the faces of the kings and queens,” she said. “Some kids and adults also came down the red carpet over and over, faces filled with happy smiles, laughs and pure joy. It was exactly the vision Tim Tebow has for it. This is the first time to go to a prom for most of them. I remember one 80-year-old in a wheelchair and her smiles filled the whole room with joy. The volunteers and vendors have covered everything. … Last year some attendees were seen weeks later around town still wearing their crowns. That’s the kind of effect the night had on them.”

This year Espinoza’s son and daughter, as well as her sisters and nieces, are all volunteering. The work is as fulfilling to the volunteers as to the attendees.

Medical and emotional needs are taken into consideration at the prom so parents can relax, knowing their children are being cared for. For instance, an autistic boy or girl who might be uncomfortable with loud cheering and clapping will be identified so that the response to the walk down the red carpet might be less boisterous.

As Lesher said, “It’s all about joy and seeing it light up these special people as they experience for the first time what most of us have taken for granted.”

To donate, register, volunteer, or find out more, go to centralpanighttoshine.com.



This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.


Connie Cousins covers Centre County for the Gazette.
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