Judging by Friday night’s turnout, casual Friday is apparently not a concept that gained a lot of traction at Calvary Church in Boalsburg.
Men wearing sports coats and women in gowns were the order of the evening — just as they would be at any other standard-issue prom with free limo rides, a shoe shine stand and a pop-up beauty parlor.
Night to Shine, which is a prom night experience sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation, mixed the best elements of a high school rite of passage and an all-inclusive weekend in Las Vegas to benefit more than 100 people with special needs from in and around Centre County.
“It’s amazing to see how many guests and volunteers showed up from within the community,” said Lindsay Jones, one of the events organizers.
Food and time were each donated in bulk. Guests were paired with a buddy entrusted with making sure they had a good time from the moment they stepped under the balloon archway and into the dance hall.
A line of ready well-wishers clapped with each new entrance. Lexi Albert, a 16-year-old guest from State College really liked that part.
Albert heard about Night to Shine from her mother and was very much looking forward to taking the rest of the prom for a spin after she and her buddy, Haslynn Haines, finished eating dinner together.
“I just can’t wait to go on the ride in the limo,” Albert said.
Haines arrived at Calvary along with the rest of her youth group from Beech Creek Wesleyan.
She pitched the idea after a friend told her about the premise behind Night to Shine
“It’s so wonderful for (people with special needs) to have a night to come experience this on a night that’s all about them,” Haines said.
Rachael Davis, a teacher from the Bellefonte Area School District, helped register three of her students for the prom and volunteered her time as a buddy on Friday night.
Davis said that people with special needs are often forgotten about and was hopeful that the Night to Shine event was the first of many spotlights to come.
“I think it’s a great initiative to get the ball rolling and offer more events like this,” Davis said.