‘Night to Shine’ prom for people with special needs creates smiles in Strongsville

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STRONGSVILLE, Ohio -- They’ rolled out the red carpet in Strongsville for a very special event.

The 5th Annual Night to Shine Prom was underway Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Holiday Inn on Royalton Road.

The dance, which is sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation, gives young people, ages 14 and up, with special needs a chance to dress up and dance the night away.

Each year attendees come from across northeast Ohio and all get the royal treatment.

Firefighters from North Royalton and Strongsville stood along the red carpet wearing their dress uniforms and cheered for the guests.

“I got him the best outfit and he’s gonna dance the night away,” said Felesha Hopkins whose 17-year-old son Brandon attended the dance for the first time,”I’m excited he’s excited, just all teary eyed.”

The event is always held around Valentines Day to ensure that people with physical or developmental challenges will know how much they are loved.

Similar Night to Shine dances are being held Friday night in 20 countries and across all 50 states.  More 100,000 people are expected to attend the dances which are hosted by a total of 700 churches and 200,000 volunteers.

One of the churches sponsoring the event locally is Royal Redeemer Redeemer Lutheran Church and School.

The church is a returning sponsor and describes the dance as, “An unforgettable prom experience, centered on God’s love, for people with special needs.”

“We pull out all the stops to make it all about them,” said Lynn Ebner, the Special Needs Ministry Coordinator at Royal Redeemer Lutheran Church.

“We want these people who are so often overlooked or forgotten to feel loved... just unconditional love,“ said Senior Pastor John Zahrte.

More on Night to Shine, here.

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