Newberg Christian Church hosted "Night to Shine," the special needs prom sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation, for the third year in a row Friday and Pastor David Case got to see just how important the event has become to those who participate.
As emcee for the event's red carpet entrance, Case was well positioned to witness just how excited the participants can get.
"It's one of the highlights of the year," Case said. "I just love doing this. I do the red carpet thing, so I get to meet each guest, introduce them over the microphone and as they walk down that red carpet, to see their joy and how overwhelmed they are. We have people two or three deep on each side of the red carpet cheering them on. Their parents or guardians get to see that and they're just as moved, too."
This year's event grew significantly, drawing 141 participants, an increase from about 100 a year ago.
"It's kind of catching on," Case said. "This is our third year doing it. I think we started with 80 and had 100-some last year, so it just keeps on growing as word gets out."
The event is a massive undertaking as 350 volunteers donated their time to provide a variety of activities for the guests, from dinner and dancing to karaoke and laser tag.
"The support of the volunteers was just incredible," Case said, adding "150 of the them were George Fox students, so we have a great partnership with George Fox for this event. The police force does a great job, too. The police chief was out and it was great to see all those guys. Some of the guests like to get their pictures taken with them, so it's fun."
The church also puts on an event for the parents and guardians, serving dinner and providing activities in a separate space so that they can be nearby, but also let their children enjoy themselves. At the end of the night, the parents join the party to watch the last dance.
"We've been doing it for a couple of years and our daughter, Ashley, she just rants and raves about it for months," church member Steve Schrieber said. "It's just such a great thing for folks with special needs. We were helping greet folks and there was a gentleman there who was in his 70s."