Night to Shine brings joy for those with special needs in Clark County

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

It’s the time of year when red carpets from Los Angeles to New York to Las Vegas are rolled out for awards season. On Friday , they come out in 56 countries worldwide, including Clark County, and the guests are treated like celebrities.

The sixth local Night to Shine saw about 90 people with special needs get a prom experience starting with a walk down a red carpet into Lawrenceville Church of God, where they received crowns and tiaras, took limo rides, ate, did special activities and danced.

» PHOTOS: Night to Shine prom for individuals with special needs

Night to Shine celebrates people with special needs and is sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation. The local effort saw everyone from local businesses to church members and other volunteers collaborating to give the attendees a night they look forward to annually, as some don’t get out often to socialize.

“It’s an absolute joy to have the ability to come in and have a good time,” said Julie Driskill, one of the event organizers. “Everything is designed with our guests in mind. It’s what a church should be doing anyway.”

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Attendees were paired with a “buddy” who acted as their companion for the evening. Quinton Hilbert has attended four events, all with buddy Shelby Seger, a lifelong member of Lawrenceville.

“I like to dance a lot,” Hilbert said.

He got ready by taking dance lessons at the Ohio Performing Arts Institute, slipped into his best suit and was ready to hit the dance floor.

Many of the guests went from the dance floor to the sanctuary stage, and a conga line formed with several guests and buddies joining in.

Nissa Scudder was confined to a wheelchair but sported a sparkling formal dress, grooved and sang along to Justin Bieber’s “Baby.” This was her first Night to Shine, and judging by the smile as she swayed, likely won’t be her last.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Even the emotional support dogs comforting guests had on sparkly costumes.

Those supporting the event got as much satisfaction as the guests. Lawrenceville Church’s Pete Blair was enthused to see about three quarters of the congregation on hand.

The smiles on all sides pleased Pastor Alan Cain.

“We have an amazing group of people who put on quite a party,” he said.

Besides his congregation, Cain was thrilled to have the contributions of 18 local businesses who donated food and other items, more than ever before.

“It is a dream come true to see the community rally for something like this. To know people will come here for these things says our community has a heart. I love to see our volunteers’ eyes light up and hear them say there’s electricity in the air tonight,” Cain said.

Perhaps the only negative about Clark County’s Night to Shine was having to limit the number of guests who could attend, which Cain and Driskill would like to rectify in the future.

“We don’t want to turn anyone away, so we are looking at ways we can expand in the future,” Cain said.