A prom night experience for people with special needs

POIPU — Every teenager deserves a prom night.

Lihue Missionary Church, in partnership with the Tim Tebow Foundation, will be hosting its second “Night to Shine” prom night on Feb. 10 for those with special needs.

One of 350 churches participating around the world, Lihue Missionary Church will hold the event at the Grand Hyatt Resort and Spa in Poipu.

“It’s all about having a prom night for anyone with special needs,” said Matthew Phillips, coordinator. “What we want to do is give everybody, especially those who are ostracized or feel that they are left out, the opportunity for this to be a special event for them to know how important they really are.”

For people with special needs ages 14 and up, this is an opportunity for teenagers and adult to recognize that they aren’t different from anyone else, Phillips said.

“We want them to feel like kings and queens and get the whole prom experience that anyone else would — the VIP treatment,” he said.

This prom night is set to take place in all 50 states and 10 countries around the world. Each guest of “Night to Shine” enters this complimentary celebration on a red carpet, complete with paparazzi to simulate the real red carpet treatment.

“After such an amazing response to the first two years of Night to Shine, our prayer is that this event will continue to change the face of Valentine’s Day weekend from simply a celebration of love, to a celebration of God’s love for people with special needs,” said Erik Dellenback, executive director of the Tim Tebow Foundation.

After a good turnout last year, Phillips hopes to replicate the success the night had on its participants, and hopes to make an impact on each attendee’s lives.

“Last year, we had 75 people with special needs and that ranged from 14 all the way to 67 years old. They said that they always wanted to go to prom before but were never able to. And at 67 years old, they were finally able to.”

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