LIMA — It was truly a “Night to Shine” for several local young people at the Lima First Assembly of God Friday.
The church was selected as one of 45 churches to host a prom for special needs youth. The program, entitled “Night to Shine,” is sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation. The Lima church received $8,500 from the foundation to host the event.
The church lined up more than 300 volunteers for the event and were worried when only 76 youth pre-registered. However, attendees began pouring in once the dance started, with more than 200 youth and their loved ones and friends showing up shortly after the dance started at 6 p.m.
“This was a chance for us to highlight these kids and their parents,” said Cam Staley, a member of the church and coordinator of the event. “We have a lot of extra opportunities that members of this population does not always have.”
Staley said he heard about the event sponsored by the foundation last year, and he said he approached pastor Randy Davis about asking to be host.
“I thought it was a real opportunity to reach out and touch people,” Staley said.
Staley applied to be a host site in November and was later notified that Lima First Assembly was selected among 42 U.S. sites and three international sites out of more than 200 applicants. Along with a dance and dinner, attendees were also treated to a hair style station, nail station, shoe shines and a throne for photos. Each attendee was also given a sash or crown to wear during the event.
The event was an obvious success to many of the youth attending. The dance was geared towards special needs youth ages 16-21.
“I am really excited,” said Olivia Montgomery, of Findlay.
Montgomery said it was her first time attending a formal dance. She said she was especially excited about the limousine ride that she was going to enjoy later in the evening.
“I am going to dance a little bit,” Montgomery said, “but first I am going to get something to eat.”
Murphy Jarod, 17, of Pandora, said he enjoyed dressing up in his “The Godfather”/gangster look. He said he was enjoying himself.
“This is big, this is great,” Jarod said. “The night is just getting started.”
Jarod said he had requested for the disc jockey to play “The Time Warp” from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” and was looking forward to dancing to one of his favorite tunes.
Staley said they had students from all over the north central part of Ohio, including attendees coming from as far as Bowling Green and Urbana.
“We are happy with the turnout,” Staley said. “We are hoping to make this an annual event.”