Church hosts prom night for special needs individuals

Harborside Church in Safety Harbor will host Night to Shine for speacial needs individuals on Feb. 12.

Everyone remembers prom night. The glitz. The glamour. The terrible punch. For the ladies, it means finding the perfect dress, having hair and nails expertly coiffed and painted and stepping out in impossibly high heels. For the gentlemen, it means donning a well-fitted tuxedo, polishing their dress shoes to a high shine and facing the age-old struggle with the neck tie.

Prom is a celebration. It’s a chance to step into the spotlight. It’s a night to shine.

And 100 lucky guests will get their chance to shine as Harborside Church in Safety Harbor hosts Night to Shine, a prom for special needs individuals ages 16 and older residing in Pinellas County.

“We want to make everyone who attends feel like the kings and queens that they are,” said church member and prom organizer Jessica Rey. “We want to shower them with love and make the night all about them.”

The prom is sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation, which has organized a program supporting proms in 26 states in the nation. Harborside learned of the program last year and was selected in October to serve as a host church, Rey said. The foundation awarded Harborside more than $8,000 to help fund the prom, with additional support provided by the community.

A hundred dresses have been donated to the cause, Rey said, and discounts at area tuxedo rental stores is in the works.

Prom-goers will be treated to a night of splendor, Rey said. Attendees will be greeted with a red carpet leading into the church, as well as a host of paparazzi on hand to capture the special night. 

Each will receive a crown or tiara upon entering the church, which will be awash in blue and silver, complete with a dance floor, dj, karaoke, photo booth, games and tons of food. A limousine also will be on hand to offer rides in the church’s parking lot to help complete the prom experience.

The event also will serve as a night off for the caretakers of those attending, as they will be pampered with dinner, dessert and gift baskets. Each prom-goer will be paired with an adult buddy, so caretakers can relax and enjoy the night just as much as their loved ones.

“We want them to feel as special as we can and to show how much we appreciate everything they do,” Rey said, who works in Pinellas County as a special needs educator.

The three-hour event is scheduled for Feb. 12 from 6 to 9 p.m. and those wishing to attend are encouraged to register, as tickets are limited to 100. Volunteers also are welcome to sign up to take part in the night’s activities.

To register or to volunteer, visit www.harborsidechurch.org/nts or call 726-0202.