night to shine

PROM — A guest walks the red carpet, flanked by a "hype team," during last year's Night to Shine.

Those with special needs are set to be given the royal treatment at the upcoming Night to Shine, a prom night experience hosted by Northview Church.

The event, now in its sixth year, showers guests with the royal treatment and aims to give the attendees an entire night dedicated to them, according to organizer Carissa Hess.

“It spotlights all those in the community who have special needs and to make a night just for them to make them feel special and help honor them,” said Hess.

From the minute guests arrive at Night to Shine up until the end, they will be made to feel like celebrities. They’ll arrive on a red carpet that’s flanked by a “hype team” that will be taking photos and cheering them on.

A salon team will be inside to provide makeup and hair touch-ups for the ladies and shoe shines for the men. Throughout the night, attendees will be able to take limo rides as well. Activities include dancing, dinner, karaoke, a photo booth, and guest appearances by an Elvis impersonator and characters from “Frozen.”

And, the attendees won’t have to go through the night alone. Each guest is paired with a “peer buddy” who enjoys the night with them by their side.

“[Having a peer buddy] just kind of gives them somebody to go through the night with them, and they get to experience all those things with them. I think it just makes a lasting impact,” said Hess. “I know from previous years there are guests who request that same buddy each year, so they’re always looking out for them. They look forward to that night with their previous buddy.”

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So far, 132 guests have registered for the event, and there’s room for more. However, only 45 people have registered to be peer buddies, so Hess is looking for more volunteers.

“That’s our biggest need right now,” she said.

Peer buddies must be 16 years old or older and are required to watch online video training. Peer buddies don’t require any special training otherwise. If there are any guests who have certain medical conditions, there will be peer buddies on hand who are specially trained to provide assistance.

Now in its sixth year, Hess said the event continues to make an impact on those who attend.

“There are guests who talk about this all year long, and they just plan. They make dances to go down the red carpet. It’s something that they look forward to and talk about all year long. I know it’s made a huge impact in the community for guests and volunteers,” she said.

To register for the event as a guest or peer buddy, visit Guests must be age 14 or older.

The event takes place Saturday, Feb. 7, at Northview Church, 3409 S. 200 W., from 6 to 9 p.m.