"Night to Shine" held for those with special needs

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Several months ago the church in downtown Ozark began planning its first "Night to Shine" event.

The Tim Tebow Foundation contributes more than $3 million in financial grants to assist churches in hosting Night to Shine in their communities. Those who come out will get their hair and makeup done, limousine rides, dinner and of course dancing.

Before the guests were crowned the queens and kings of the prom, Larry Jones, senior minister at Northside, blessed the group, and Tim Tebow stopped by via video board to share a special message. Rita Booher, the Milligan contact for the event, explained that the concept behind this event is to provide "the best night and have that best night be a night at church". All of the guests were paired with a buddy for the evening, and family members and caregivers attended as well as a slew of volunteers who made the event happen, according to Daphne Brown of TrueNorth Church. "Night to Shine" organizers raised $8,000 to put on this event, along with items donated by numerous sponsors. "Previous year over and over again I heard it was the best night of each and every one of our lives and we just really loved it", volunteer Maria Hitchcock said.

"I remember dancing with one girl, and she lit up like no other", Bailey said.

But unlike most proms everyone leaves this one a king or queen. "Being connected with this foundation helps us be part of an worldwide movement to share God's love with those families and communities who are often forgotten".

"That's what's so incredible - that we have so many people rallying around this", Caserta said. "And I'm very thankful, they make you feel so excited and their energy and i just love having our guests here".

"It's been a passion of ours to host this event and reach out to the special needs community", said Bouillon.

Every guest had a buddy, an escort for the evening. The guests weren't celebrities - although they received the star treatment on Friday night.

"We had a huge response previous year", Brown said. She said they have partnered with the ClemsonLIFE Program, which helps special needs young adults as they attend Clemson University.

There were 380 Night to Shine proms held around the world Friday night with 75,000 guests and 150,000 volunteers. The Tim Tebow Foundation is committed to celebrating people with special needs.

"I just enjoyed riding in the limo", added Granatino.

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