LIMA — Twenty-one-year-old Ottawa resident Jade Carrillo wore a sparkly purple dress and her date Brent Closson wore a shiny velvet jacket and black top hat and danced to Back Streets Boys “I Want It That Way” Friday night at Lima First Church.
The couple was one of 181 people ages 14 to 35 who participated in the sixth annual Night To Shine event, a nationwide prom event sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation to celebrate those with special needs. The church’s chapel was decorated in the theme “All About Space.”
As participants entered the event dressed in their prom best as their parents and the community cheered for them.
Carrillo, a senior at Ottawa-Glandorf High School, said she was glad to get to dance and meet others her age.
“I like that I get to dress up and wear makeup,” Jade Carrillo said.
Carrillo’s mother said she is glad her daughter had the opportunity to experience the event.
“It is very exciting to see her happy and looking beautiful,” she said.
Cam Staley, event chair, said aside from the special needs youth, there were 175 Ohio Northern University, 25 Bluffton University and 25 Rhodes State College students serving as dates. Church members also volunteered. Lima First Church was one of the first 44 churches in the world to take part in the event and helped with the event. Each of the youth received a shiny crown.
“The purpose of the night is to celebrate these kids. We want them to experience being the king and queen of the ball,” Staley said. He said every person who attended the event deserved a night to feel special.
Students who volunteered were from Greek Life, Sigma Iota Epsilon management honor fraternity, the football team, religious life and education, criminal justice and nursing majors, as well as other area college students.
Chanelle Lawrence, 19, of Lima, wore a purple, blue and white dress and got her photo taken with her date, Josh Pettay, a senior ONU university student.
“My friend’s mom curled my hair, and it’s my first time for being here so this is exciting,” Lawrence said.
Pettay said he has come for the past four years to participate in the event.
“It is good to give back to the community and to see everyone happy,” Pettay said.
A photo booth was set up where participants could get their photos taken wearing glasses, hats, feather boas and mustaches. There also was a karaoke room and selfie station. The night ended with a parent-child dance.
Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.