Night to Shine – a prom night experience centered on God’s love for people with special needs ages 14 and older – is returning to the Owensboro Convention Center on February 10.
This year marks the ninth anniversary of the event conceived by the Tim Tebow Foundation, and the seventh year the event has been hosted locally. Event co-coordinators Michelle Miller and Kerri Booker are excited to bring back a sense of normalcy to the event, shifting back to an in-person experience from a virtual format.
“We have people attend from everywhere,” Booker said. “Our last in-person event was in 2020. We delivered boxes in 2021, and there was a virtual experience last year, but we’re definitely excited to be back at the Convention Center. This year has been our most overwhelming response.”
Within six hours after opening registration on November 1, the group filled all 100 spots and compiled a waiting list of 40. Booker said they are open to hosting more individuals if they can find more volunteers.
“Our biggest challenge is finding volunteers,” she said. “We partner each guest with a volunteer buddy who helps them navigate the entire experience. We also have more than 100 volunteers in other areas serving food and drinks, capturing photos, and more.”
To volunteer for the event, click here.
Members of Life Community Church, located on the corner of Parrish Avenue and Breckinridge Street, volunteered at a Night to Shine event in Louisville in 2016, inspiring them to bring the idea back to Owensboro. Michael Edwards serves as pastor at the church and said the venture strongly aligns with their mission.
“For us, it’s a matter of recognizing and serving a population that is too often overlooked,” Edwards said. “Things like this are core to who we are and our culture. We constantly talk about how everyone matters, and this is a way for us to express that and put it into action.”
Booker reiterated that it is more than just a dance. Guests have access to assistance with hair and makeup, limousine services, the trolley, horse-drawn carriages, karaoke, hors d’oeuvres, and desserts.
She said they also offer a separate room for parents and caregivers to “hang out” with live entertainment and food. This enhancement still creates a sense of independence for the guests while still respecting the need for a caregiver to be close.
When the group first applied for the grant from the Tim Tebow Foundation, they were provided ample financial support to organize the event. The goal is to lean more on the community and less on the foundation each year, which Booker said is going well.
“We’re blessed to be surrounded by a wonderful and caring community,” she said. “The community is now responsible for funding the majority of the event.”