Night to Shine 2019: prom for people with special needs

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Crossroads Christian Fellowship in East Bakersfield teamed up with the non-profit Tim Tebow Foundation to put on its second-annual Night to Shine, a prom for people with special needs.

The church is one of more than 500 churches hosting this event worldwide.

Since 2015, the Tim Tebow Foundation has donated millions to ensure everyone can attend for free.

This year, the event saw 225 guests, from teens to people in their 70s, each escorted by a buddy. There were also more than 500 volunteers.

“A lot of times, the community’s overlooked, and they’re the way God created them for a reason, and we want them to feel special,” said event coordinator Brian Conlee.

Every single attendee got a red carpet introduction. They were pampered with hair, makeup, and shoe shine services. Then it was off to dinner, dancing, karaoke, games, and limo rides.

However, the event was about much more than the elaborate activities.

“I don’t really talk to too many people because I’m hiding in the shadows most the time, probably afraid of being judged by others,” said Bryce Smith, who has cerebral palsy. “(But here) I feel comfortable because there’s not one person I don’t get along with, and I feel like I can just approach somebody and just give my heart out.”

The event was about the bonds formed and the environment created.

“I met a new friend today. I’m not even sure she could talk, but she reached out her hand to me,” said Christina Grace, who sits in a wheelchair.

Most of all, it was about coming together to embrace differences.

At the end of the night, every single attendee was crowed either prom king or prom queen.

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