A night to celebrate

Natalie Jacobs and Kelby Woolf pose for a photographer at the 2017 Night to Shine at First Christian Church.

A prom-night experience is in the works tonight for a group of Laramie residents set to receive the VIP treatment.

Night to Shine, sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation, is a night of glitz and glamor for people with special needs. The Laramie installment is set to run from 6-9 p.m. today at First Christian Church, 2130 Garfield St.

“It is just to show them that they are so treasured and loved and part of the kingdom of God,” said outreach coordinator Joy Fawcett, who brought the event to Laramie for the first time in 2017.

Night to Shine is for anyone 14 and older with a mental or physical disability. Women are invited to take their pick of donated dresses, while men can rent a tuxedo at a discounted rate from Mountain Valley Bridal.

“Everything else is free for guests,” Fawcett said.

The night includes a catered meal, disc jockey, corsages and boutonnieres, gift bags, photographs and a limousine. Every guest will be crowned king or queen for the night.

Fawcett said organizers are expecting about 75 guests, which is more than in 2017.

“It’s bigger because more people know about it, so they are spreading the word,” she said.

Night to Shine was started by the Tim Tebow Foundation in 2014 as a way to celebrate and value an overlooked group of people, according to a news release. The foundation and its sponsors provide a kit with decorations and gifts to each host site.

Fawcett said organizers have also had support from across the community. More than 100 volunteers have signed up to fill roles ranging from checking coats to cleaning up to helping with hair and makeup.

A large group of volunteers have been enlisted to partner with guests to make sure they’re having fun and help with questions or concerns they have throughout the evening. There will also be a respite room for anyone who needs a quiet place to take break and a room where caregivers can watch the proceedings.

“It’s a huge outpouring of the community,” Fawcett said. “We’ve got lots of people there helping out.”

She said volunteers are still welcome to sign up through a link on the group’s Facebook page or just show up today.

“We’re find something for you to do,” she said.

More than 500 churches are expected to host similar events for almost 100,000 guests this month. Fawcett said she’s looking forward to celebrating Laramie’s special guests.

“We just want to love on them and treat them with respect,” she said.

Anyone who needs an invitation can email nighttoshinelaramie@gmail.com.

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