For many young people, Prom is a night of fun, dancing, games, music, limo rides, and the crowning of the school’s Prom King and Queen. But some people don’t get to attend their school Prom. It can be for various reasons, but the majority miss Prom because of a special need or disability.  

Most schools are not able to help with hair, make-up, clothing or other prom essentials. These things are expensive and, for student with special needs, may require special assistance. It often makes attending prom almost impossible for them.

iLove ItThe Tim Tebow Foundation now organizes a Night To Shine Prom. For the second year, Heartland Church in Paducah will host this event which this year, will be held on the Friday night before Valentine’s Day, February 8.

Individuals with special needs have a chance to attend a Prom night event, with all the perks, because on this night, they are the focus.

There are days of preparation and decorating done by many volunteers, and they work tirelessly to make the night the most special night of the participants’ year. In the weeks leading up to the event, participants have the opportunity to choose dress apparel from local donations at Heartland Church. The Church works with local dress stores in our area to ensure everyone who wants to dress up will be able to. Men’s Warehouse also works with the Church to help with dress the gentlemen who want to spruce up!.

When theses special young people arrive at their Prom, they are partnered up with a “Buddy” to ensure their evening is the best experience it can be. Volunteers help with makeup, hair, shoe shining, and other things to make the night perfect.

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A dinner is held in the main building. After the meal the participants are led to the outside, where they get to enjoy a “limo experience”. The limo will take groups of students around the large parking lot to the Youth Center. There, the participants will walk the “Red Carpet” and have a professional photograph taken of them as they enter the hall for the dance portion of the night.

There will be professional photographers at the event, capturing everything from the moment the first participant arrives until the last participant leaves.

iLove ItDinner and dancing are not the only things that happen at the Night to Shine event. There are games, crafts, and a “quiet room” for guests to retire to if they need a moment to regroup from the noise and festivities.

The Prom Crowning Ceremony is as inclusive as it can be -  every participant is Crowned King and Queen of the Prom! It is a special time for each individual.

“We want to acknowledge each guest, and recognize their families and caregivers as well,” said Bryan Phelps, Pastor of Children and Families at Heartland Heartland Church . He works closely with people who have special needs in our community and is passionate about this ministry.

“There is a family room for the families and caregivers to go if they would like to participate in the event,” explained Phelps. “It is a place where they can connect and share their stories and support each other. This is an event that the prom goers and their families have looked forward to for months, and its almost here. The excitement is contagious!”

iLove ItLast year was the first event of this type at the church and 127 participants attended the Night to Shine Prom. This year, they are hoping to reach 150 or more participants. If you know of a special needs student who would like to attend please contact Phelps.

Night to Shine is an event sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation, and held in various places around the world, with their greatest number of these events in the USA. In their first year they had 44 churches participate in the event, which helps people with special needs attend their own Prom. Last year over 500 churches participate in the event.

Volunteers needed

As you can imagine this event is a lot of work and requires many volunteers. They welcome any volunteers to join in the event’s planning, preparation, and during the night itself, to help make this a memorable experience for every participant attending. Anyone can volunteer or contribute to the event. All donations of formal apparel and every helping hand is welcomed with open arms and hearts.

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For anyone who would like to share in the joy of Night to Shine at Heartland Church on February 8, just visit heir website at or call Bryan Phelps at 270.534.1400. You can also stop by the church itself to speak with anyone about the event and share your time or donations with them there.