This past Friday, February 9, over 150 special needs Kings and Queens fastened their cuff links, and zipped up their dresses for what is quickly becoming one of the most anticipated nights of the year in Jefferson City – Night to Shine Prom. Each February, this event, created by the Tim Tebow Foundation in 2010, is held in over 500 churches across the nation serving over 90,000 special needs individuals, ages 14 and up. The national celebration, which was brought to Jefferson City in 2016 has proved to be one that our entire community shows up to support.

Local Capital West Christian Church Minister of Involvement, Rick Yoder, and his wife, Glenda, first heard about Night to Shine from a church in South Carolina who had participated during the events first year. The pair, having recently attended a children’s conference introducing special needs ministry, decided that they wanted to reach out to the special needs community and subsequently applied to become a host church. The congregation hosted its first Night to Shine Prom in 2016 to nearly 125 guests, with each guest earning the opportunity to celebrate their uniqueness, and shine as King, or Queen, for the night.

For the Queens, prom dresses are donated to the church each year, and female participants are invited to come and shop for a dress with free alterations available. The dresses are theirs to keep. For the men, each year, local Downtown business, Samuel’s Tuxedos and Gifts offers tuxes to Night to Shine Kings at a discounted rate of $65 each. Capital West has covered half of that cost for each guest since the beginning and last year, a private donor covered the remainder – making it a free event for all those who participated. This year, local non-profit for individuals with developmental disabilities, Day Solutions Foundation partnered with the church to do the same – covering half the cost of tuxedos for 42 participants.

Prom begins with each guest being introduced by name, as they walk through the Jefferson City Fire Department’s Isle of Honor, and are escorted down the Red Carpet as buddies, families, and paparazzi take photos and cheer (watch Steph’s entrance here). This is a special moment for the night’s honorees as they are dressed in their best, and able to glow as the center of attention. Pre-prom pampering is then provided with hair and make-up for the ladies’, and shoe shining for the gents. Each attendee is assisted in navigating their way through the festivities with support from their volunteer buddies. This year, over 400 volunteers and buddies helped to make the night possible. After their pampering, the Queens are given their tiara and corsage, and the Kings are given their crown and boutonniere and head off to pose for their keepsake photo in true red carpet fashion.

Afterwards, eager participants head into a beautifully decorated and magical prom where they are served a meal from Chick-Fil-A. Parents and caretakers are able to watch the prom from across the street through video feed, while they ] enjoy a dinner of their own, catered by Lee’s Chicken. The rest of the night is spent dancing with friends and buddies, enjoying limo rides, karaoke, photo booth, popcorn and cupcakes – and of course a video from Tim Tebow himself. The night wraps up with a much anticipated balloon drop, and a swag bag for everyone which includes their photo, and a Night to Shine tumbler. When asked what being able to be a part of Night to Shine means to him, Minister Yoder said, “Night to Shine is one of my favorite nights of the year. I love seeing the joy on the faces of our honored guests as they walk the Red Carpet and enter a place where the love of Christ is real, and each guest is crowned King or Queen of the prom.” It’s safe to say that everyone involved is already looking forward to next year.

Capital West would like to extend their thanks to Chick-Fil-A, Lee’s Chicken, Mark Edwards, Ryan Freeman, Busch’s Florist, Missouri Mental Health Foundation, Dunn Brothers Coffee, The Loft Salon, Salon Va’Lise, Elements Hair Salon, Sugar Tree Bakery, Ready Popped for all of their time and donations and all of the many volunteers that make this event possible each year.

For more Feed the Need, check out our blog.

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