People walk down the red carpet during Night to Shine event

Night to Shine Celebrates People with Needs

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Everyone feels special when they walk down the red carpet.

Dara Walburn speaks during the Night to Shine event
Dara Walburn, an attendee, at the Night to Shine Event

Dara Walburn was no different. Cheered on by her family and friends, Walburn gracefully walked down the red carpet in her silky pink, floor length gown.

Walburn received a lot of love and support from her family and friends on Friday night during the Night to Shine event, sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation. The event helped put people with special needs in the spotlight by allowing them to feel their very best with a prom night at Christ Community Wesleyan Church, Albany.

Supporters hold signs during the Night to Shine event
Supporters hold up signs with encouraging messages.

The evening started off with supporters of the event cheering on their friends with signs that said, “You Are Loved; Shine On.”

Walburn, an attendee, said Night to Shine brought together people with disabilities for a night of fun where everyone could dress up, put their high heels on and dance away.

Walburn was not the only one who had fun walking the red carpet. Another attendee Peter White enjoyed everyone cheering on him.

Peter White speaks during the Night
Peter White, an attendee, at the Night to Shine event.

“I’ve been rooted for, every single year of my life,” Peter White said. “Bowling tournaments to homecoming to [Night to Shine event].”

Dale White, father of Peter White, said the event is important in the community because they are fun, and everybody likes to have fun.

“We love a party,” Dale White said. “We’ve been going to these for about three or four years now, far, far away. When we heard it was going to be local, we loved it. So, we just showed up.”

Teresa Kirkendall, event organizer and office staff at the Church, said she was inspired by God to hold the event.

“We need to let [people with special needs] know they are treasured. That they are worthy. That they are enough and that we’re all children of God,” Kirkendall said.

All attendees are crowned prom king and queen.

Kirkendall commended her colleagues hard work in putting the event together.

“What we wrapped up here in 5-6 months, really takes about a year,” Kirkendall said. “When you ask [Christ Community Wesleyan Church congregation] to do something, they love out loud because when you ask them, they are right there front and center, and they help.”

In the future, Kirkendall said she hopes the event gets bigger and spreads all over Southeastern Ohio.

For now, Walburn dances the night away.

“I think for the church to put on this event is really, really exciting,” Walburn said.