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New event kicked off honoring those with developmental disabilities

Jennifer Gerstung walks the red carpet. She was so excited to be at the event that she danced while waiting in line for a limo ride.

Teri Stein

The biggest social event of the year involved a very special group of people. Months of work and planning culminated into a party to end all parties on Friday, Feb. 10 as the NewPointe Community Church at Dover hosted a Night to Shine.

The local event was just one of 375 other sites around the United States and the world that hosted a Night to Shine, sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation. When the honored guests entered the building, they checked in and were greeted by their buddy. The buddy stayed with them the entire evening to make sure they had a wonderful time and got to participate in all the activities.

Participants received a crown and a corsage and walked a red carpet lined with cheering fans and photographers. Other activities included a limo ride, karaoke, buffet and a chance to pose for photos in front of a Night to Shine backdrop. The organizers also had a sensory room to provide a place for guests to rest, and another room was set up for parents to eat and enjoy some relaxing piano music.

“It’s an honor to be a part of Night to Shine. [People with developmental disabilities] are a community that really needs love,” said Micah Hasty, one of the event’s organizers. “It’s an honor to work with Tim Tebow and let our guests know that they are kings and queens, not just tonight but in God’s eyes too.”

These sentiments were echoed by Tebow himself via video. “You are significant, you have meaning and you have purpose,” Tebow said, adding it was his honor to crown each and every one king and queen of the prom.

For many of the guests it was the first time they had attended a prom.

“It was great,” Miranda Milburn said of her first-ever limo ride. “It was more surprising than I thought.”

Guest Marilyn Saunders, dressed in a sparkly bright blue sequined gown, said her favorite activities were “eating and drinking, my crown, flower, and lip gloss and eye shadow.”

Another guest, Amber Frenz, took a shopping trip to Canton for a new dress, and she also purchased a pair of shoes.

More than 190 people with developmental disabilities attended the event, coming from as far away as Columbus.

“We love it,” Stevie Madison of Zanesville said of his favorite part of the event, dancing. Madison was dancing with his buddy Amber Albaugh of Cambridge.

“This is wonderful,” Mona Garver said. Her daughter Wendy attended as a guest. “Wendy got to see a lot of her friends. This is really something different. She was just excited to come.”

The effects of the event will keep guests feeling great long afterward. Guest Ginger Stalcup said she was “still spinning” more than 24 hours after the event because the Night to Shine was so much fun.

Published: February 15, 2017
New Article ID: 2017702159985