Soon the red carpet will be in place, the donated spotlights will be set up and the first party guests will arrive.
The third annual Night to Shine at Celebration Community Church, 5790 230th Ave., will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 7. The dinner-dance, intended to resemble a lavish prom, is designed especially for those age 14 and older with special needs.
Affiliated with the Tim Tebow Foundation, Night to Shine is a worldwide movement, said Brent Kaiser, activities director at The ARC of Central Plains and one of the coordinators of the event.
According to the foundation’s website, in 2019 “on one night 655 churches from around the world came together to host Night to Shine for approximately 100,000 honored guests through the support of 200,000 volunteers.”
Kaiser said that locally in 2018, the first year the event was held at Celebration, guests numbered around 100 people. Last year, attendance grew to 120. This year, several days before the registration deadline, attendance already stood at 140 guests from 14 towns in 15 counties throughout central and northwest Kansas. That growth has occurred primarily through word of mouth, he said.
Around 400 volunteers will assist with the local event. Registration deadline for both guests and volunteers is midnight Friday, Jan. 24, at https://www.nightoshinehays.org. The event is free for guests and their parents and caregivers.
Guests will begin arriving around 5:30 p.m. the evening of the event, Kaiser said, and will walk down the red carpet to either cheering crowds or quiet, friendly waves, depending upon that guest’s needs.
“One of the things that makes this event special is we take into account sensory issues,” Kaiser said.
Each guest will be paired up with a volunteer buddy for the entire evening. Following a dinner catered by Gella’s Diner, 117 E. 11th, guests may attend the dance or opt for a quieter experience.
Activities throughout the evening will include a photo booth, karaoke, games, caricature artists and rides in the limo and party bus that will be on hand. A medical room, staffed by volunteer RNs, will also be on site.
In addition, parents and caregivers may take advantage of the “respite room,” featuring complimentary snacks, drinks and massages that are scheduled to be provided by Fort Hays State University students enrolled in the massage therapy program.
New this year will be sign language interpreters and communication boards for those guests with speech and hearing impairments, Kaiser said.
Preliminary planning for the event began almost as soon as last year’s event concluded, he said, with the seven-member coordinating team starting work in earnest in August. That team features representatives from FHSU, The Arc, the church, Tiger Pals and Catholic Disciples at FHSU.
“What really makes this event amazing is how God moves and brings our community together,” Kaiser said.
Flowers by Frances, 2424 A Vine, is donating all the corsages and boutonnieres for the event. Jim’s Formal Wear, of Salina, is donating all of the men’s tuxedos. The Arc has been accepting donations of ladies’ prom dresses and formal wear. A formal “try-on” for those needing to borrow an outfit will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26, at The Arc, 600 Main.
More information is available from Kaiser at 785-639-4010.