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Everybody's a king or queen for the night

By CAITLEN CAMERON • Feb 11, 2019 at 10:00 PM

“Thank you all for making me feel so special tonight,” a joyous Lance Pratt said over the microphone after singing “Kung Fu Fighting” in front of a dancing crowd.

Positive statements like this were plenty throughout the evening’s Night to Shine event. Both attendees and volunteers alike expressed such joy and gratitude. 

First United Methodist Church hosted its first Night to Shine from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday. The prom-like experience, centered on God’s love, is for people with special needs from all ages and hosted by more than 600 churches in all 50 states and across the globe on the same night.

Before the event started, all the attendees received a pre-dance pampering party where volunteers put on makeup and shined their shoes. Volunteers made sure all the guests were feeling their best before their ride in custom limos.

Each of the five limos were escorted by a police cruiser around the city to then be dropped off to a red carpet, complete with fans and cameras on each side. While each limo pulled up, host David Wallace announced each of the attendees along with his or her escort.

“Announcing was a huge honor and I think it’s been a great event to show that our community cares about these special guests. Everyone has done a wonderful job pulling our community in and getting a lot of different organizations to make this happen,” Wallace said.

From there the special guests were treated with specialized meals from Fisher-Titus Medical Center and homemade meatloaf from the church.

“Since some of our guests have dietary restrictions. Fisher-Titus was kindly able to donate their meals, special for this event,” said DeAnn McKillips, the church director of Christian education.

After their meal, guests were paraded out on to the dance floor where they danced to songs such as the “Cha-Cha Slide.” There was an occasional song by one of their own, like Steve Machock’s rendition of “Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks.

Outside of dancing there were mini game tables, kettle corn and a photo booth set up to remember the night.

About halfway through the dancing, guests were surprised with special guest “Elvis Presley,” who paraded through the crowd and did his famous “Thank you, thank you very much.”

Presley also announced the other honored guest, Miss America 1963 Jacquelyn “Jackie” Mayer, who made sure to talk to every attendee at the dance.

“This event is so inspirational and wonderful, I am so glad I could be here,” Mayer said.

The overall main event of the night was the crowning of every guest by former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, who did the crowning via a livestream broadcast.

“It is my honor to crown every single one of you special guests, king or queen of the prom, this is your night to shine,” he said.

With nearly 45 attendees and 150 volunteers, Night to Shine made an impact on special guests and volunteers alike.

“I’m so happy that I got to be a part of such a wonderful event,” volunteer Jenna Thorpe said. “Everyone seemed to have a blast. It was so great to see all of the guests dressed up and having a good time, making it a definite night to shine.”

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