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Prom for People with Special Needs Will Be a 'Night to Shine'

by and on January 13, 2018 5:00 AM

"Night to Shine," a prom night experience for people 14 and older with special needs, will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9, at Calvary Harvest Fields, 150 Harvest Fields Drive, Boalsburg 'Night to Shine'

The event, sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation, is part of a worldwide movement that includes more than 500 churches representing 29 denominations and 190,000 volunteers in 50 states and 15 countries. On the same night, more than 90,000 guests with special needs will be honored.

The event is entirely free for the prom attendees. Each will enter the event on a red carpet with a warm welcome from the crowd of onlookers and paparazzi. A royal treatment awaits each guest, as there will be limo rides, professional photography and hair and makeup stations. The guests can have their hair touched up and makeup applied and take advantage of shoeshine stations. After receiving corsages and boutonnieres, attendees will enjoy a catered dinner.

A karaoke room is planned and, of course, true to the prom theme, there will be a dance floor. Caretakers and parents may visit in a respite room while the merrymakers dance and party to the music. Parents and visitors will want to return, however, when the king and queen of the prom are named.

There is a special entrance for any guests who have sensory issues and would like a more private arrival. This quiet area will also be available if anyone needs to take a break from the prom noise or lights.

At present, 55 people have signed up, but Calvary has room for 150. The group would love to see the numbers reach that. Residents of Centre and surrounding counties are invited.

Lisa Lesher, of Calvary Harvest Fields, said she heard about the Tim Tebow Foundation at a Bible study and immediately was interested in seeing this prom happen here. Lesher approached Calvary's pastor, Dan Nold, and he came on board at once.

Lindsay Jones, a sophomore at Penn State, also approached Nold about becoming involved. Jones has been a buddy for two years at a "Night to Shine" prom held at her home church in Scranton. “It’s been a great experience," said Jones. "I will be there helping wherever I can, at Calvary.” 

Jones is studying human development and family studies at Penn State. “I love working with people,” she said.

Lesher said she Googled the event and found the 2017 "Night to Shine" video. That did it for her. “I loved it and it made me cry. We have to do it here, was my reaction,” said Lesher.

The Tim Tebow Foundation was started in 2014. Lesher and Nold made applications to the foundation and their site was approved in June. Lesher reached out to United Cerebral Palsy, the Centre County Down Syndrome Society, the Spina Bifida Association and the Muscular Dystrophy Association, among others, to garner support and interest guests.

They then sought donations.

“We have received gift cards from Wegmans and Giant food stores. Some area restaurants and caterers have already offered to help us out with food donations and offer discounts,” Lesher said.

George’s Floral Boutique will provide corsages and boutonnieres. Lesher said there are people donating their services to help with makeup and hair, limo service, disc jockey work, flowers, photography and other needs. Men’s Wearhouse is offering the guys discounted rentals on their tuxedos, shoes and other items, such as jewelry. Ladies who attend can receive free or low-cost dresses, thanks to many organizations and people in the community who want to donate gowns. The Bald Eagle Area School District is offering a shopping day where girls can buy gowns for low prices.

The community effort will provide a night to remember for the prom attendees. The church is still looking to sign up volunteers to help in several areas. Each attendee will be paired with a “buddy” through the evening to assure the guest has a safe and memorable experience. All volunteers will attend mandatory training and undergo background clearances. The deadline for signing up to volunteer is Friday, Jan. 19.

Visit www.centralpanighttoshine.com for details on volunteering.

One of the women looking forward to the prom is Claire Weaver. She is engaged to Ryan McMurtrie and she said she is known as the “dancing queen.”

“I am happy that my friends and I are going to this prom," said Weaver. "I love to dance.”

In addition to dancing for 26 years with Dance Academy, Weaver plays field hockey and participates in track and field at the Special Olympics.

Weaver will be ready for plenty of pictures with her friends, Sarah Plechar and Brittany Peters.

“I am so excited,” she said. “I am lucky because my mom, Barbara Weaver, is a hairdresser and she will do my hair. My mom and I have been looking at dresses. The prom will be so much fun.”

Brooke Fisher is another young lady who will be dressed up and dancing Feb. 9. She is well known around the area for her horseback riding and participation in horse shows. Her mother, Margie Fisher, recently wrote a book, "Run, Rikki, Run," that was inspired by her daughter and her relationship with a special horse.

Fisher has three jobs and a boyfriend, Matt Torter. They like to go out riding and have dinner together. Fisher’s mother said she has to chauffeur the two around, but doesn’t mind.

The Tim Tebow Foundation believes events such as "Night to Shine" can change the narrative on how people with special needs are viewed. All those attending will, hopefully, have a fantastic evening they’ll never forget.

Photo provided. Brooke Fisher has three jobs, a boyfriend and a passion for horses. She’s a busy lady, but not too busy to attend the "Night to Shine" event in Boalsburg on Feb. 9.



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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