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Tim Tebow Foundation ‘Night to Shine’ prom events held across SWFL

It’s the time of season for a “Night to Shine” for thousands of people of all ages who live with special needs. Tim Tebow Foundation sponsors these prom events at churches nationwide annually.

We are at a “Night to Shine” event held at Crosspoint Church in Cape Coral Friday, where all the guests get to feel more like movie stars.

“You know why?[Because] there was a lot of people cheering us on,” Anya Denmark said.

Guests step out of a limo onto a red carpet, where they are welcomed by paparazzi when they make their way inside the church. The same scenario will play out across Southwest Florida at other locations too.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for the rest of the world to see the special needs community and all of their capabilities,” Margaret Gress said.

Allie Sileno and her caregiver, Gress, told us she can’t wait to make her way onto the dance floor and enjoy a special prom experience created for her and others with special needs.

“She talks about it all year long,’ Gress said. “It’s a highly-anticipated night, making sure she has the right outfit and jewelry and the shoes.”

Sherri Eppich coordinates the “Night to Shine” in Naples. She laces up roller skates and get on the dance floor every year at their event. She says it’s how she encourages everyone on wheels like her to join in for a song or two.

New Hope Ministries welcomes all guests with a red carpet and paparazzi to encourage them to try out the photo booth and props.

“In the past, there’s been a ventriloquist, and [Allie] looks forward to the crafts and the other activities,” Gress said.

For Denmark, it was her second time attending “Night to Shine” in Cape Coral. And it provides her and other guests a lot of meaning.

“What night to shine means to me is its filled with friends and family,” Denmark said.

About 180 guests will enjoy prom at that Naples location, and about 120 will attend Cape Coral and another 120 at the Sanibel location.

“It is just so special to watch the night come alive after months of planning,” event coordinator Lauren Alexander said. “The smiles, and the hugs just are overwhelming.”

Activities spark smiles and create an unforgettable experience for both prom-goers and volunteers.

“And [Allie] talks about it for weeks afterwards, and she just had a fantastic time,” Gress said.

Everyone involved hopes to see the movement continue to grow and involve more churches, so more people with special needs can enjoy a “Night to Shine.”

“We’re all family here,” Denmark said. “Nobody gets put down or nothing [because], Guess what? We’re all family.”

Reporter:Melinda Lee
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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