Night to Shine Dazzles in State College


Sam Kilareski

Guests of Night to Shine walk down the red carpet upon entering the dance floor.

Sam Kilareski, Staff Writer

Night to Shine is an annual prom the Friday before Valentine’s Day for people of ages 14+ with special needs. The night was full of limo drives, red carpet walks, karaoke, a picture station, a dance floor, and the main event: crowning every guest king or queen.

The Tim Tebow Foundation hosted the event with local directors at every location. This year there were 721 churches around all 50 states and 34 countries. It is “a night for the churches to shine, the volunteers to shine, our honored guests to shine, and most importantly, God to shine,” according to the Night to Shine website. But this is no ordinary prom.

This prom takes “team meetings for probably the last seven months, every month and they last probably three and a half hours, and we just go over what we can do to make the event even better,” Lisa Lesher, the Central PA Night to Shine Coordinator, said. “This year, we added a second karaoke, we had a photo booth, we had a balloon drop, we changed the archway.”

There were so many different dances, karaoke singers, limo rides, and other events taking place that many guests had different favorite parts of the night.

“Karaoke and the crowning,” senior Jadon Rieck said.

Simply put, “dancing” was guest Nevaeh Worth’s favorite part.

This was the third Night to Shine held at Calvary Church in Boalsburg, and the sixth year that the event took place worldwide. Rieck and Worth were just two of 115,000 guests worldwide. The location in Boalsburg was one of 29 locations in Pennsylvania.

Lesher spoke about her favorite memory from Night to Shine. “She (a guest) was able to walk the red carpet, and she was in her upper seventies and she has snow-white hair and a beautiful blue cinderella dress on, and as she walked the red carpet, she was smiling and laughing so hard that she had to catch her false teeth from falling out of her mouth,” Lesher said. “That’s probably my favorite memory from Night to Shine, but I like them all! I love watching the joy that is on each one of their faces.”

Joy is a key component of Night to Shine. Lesher said that the best part of her night was “watching the guest’s faces, and watching how much joy they have inside for being celebrated.”

Guests enjoyed participating in prom activities for a couple of hours before the climax of the night: the crowning ceremony and balloon drop. The crowning ceremony where everyone is king or queen is very special. Unlike any other prom, Night to Shine is an event to show everyone in the special needs community that they are loved and worthy.

When Rieck put the crown on his head, he felt “powerful and very happy.”

“It feels as if you’re cared for,” Rieck said.

Worth felt “pretty good” after putting on her tiara.

Rieck thought that this was the “best night of the year.”

“I’ve enjoyed it so far,” Rieck said. And when asked about next year, he responded with, “Oh yeah, you’ll see me there!”

For more information on Night to Shine, visit their home page.