People with special needs go to prom at Night to Shine

Published 8:00 pm Sunday, February 12, 2017

ALABASTER- Teenagers and adults with special needs danced the night away at Community Baptist Church’s Night to Shine event on Friday, Feb. 10. Night to Shine is a special needs prom that is sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation.

“I couldn’t think of a better way for our church to show Christ’s love,” Rev. Bo Brown said. “One of the neatest things is to watch our church and community come together to pull this off.”

Guests rode around the church’s property in a limousine or a luxury car, and entered the building on a red carpet.

“They’re given the red carpet experience, where people are lined up to cheer them on,” Brown said.

Brown said volunteers from the church cleared out the sanctuary to provide guests with a spacious dance floor. Hair and makeup specialists were onsite to help guests get ready for the dance, and men had the opportunity to get their shoes shined.

A game room, a karaoke room and a dining room were also available to guests who wished to take a break from dancing.

At 7:30 p.m., all of the guests gathered in the sanctuary to listen to a special video message from professional athlete Tim Tebow, where he crowned each guest as a prom king or queen.

“In God’s eyes, they are all kings and queens,” Brown said.

Helena resident Madeline Jernigan originally decided to take her son, Mark, to Night to Shine after she was first approached by a volunteer. According to Jernigan, there are a limited number of resources for adults and adolescents with special needs in Shelby County, and she would love to see more events like Night to Shine in the area.

“This is something that Mark loves, and these things are rare,” Madeline Jernigan said.

Madeline Jernigan said events like these help raise awareness and dispel negative stereotypes about people with special needs.

“They’ll learn that these special needs people are not to be feared,” Madeline Jernigan said.

Mark Jernigan, who went to his high school prom years ago, said he still remembers how to do the YMCA. He said he especially enjoyed getting his picture taken, riding in the limo, walking on the red carpet, dancing and eating.

Brown said he is grateful for the opportunity for Community Baptist to host Night to Shine this year, and he believes the benefits of Night to Shine don’t just extend to the guests.

“It’s going to change people in multiple ways. It’s going to foster a desire to serve and give people a different view of diversity. It’s going to show that it’s good to give yourself up. We were created to do more than just sit in a church on Sunday,” Brown said.

Alabaster Mayor Marty Handlon attended the event to show her support, and said she is proud to see the work Community Baptist is doing for people with special needs in the area.

“It’s fabulous for Community Baptist Church to take this on. Alabaster gets to shine again with one of our faith-based organizations serving our kids,” Handlon said. “Their name says it all, because they’re definitely serving the community.”