Prom guests illuminate Night to Shine

Alexa Pfeiffer/News Tribune
Vicky Anderson picks out jewelry at the jewelry table at the Night to Shine prom Friday at Capital West Christian Church. Guests could participate in makeovers after walking the red carpet and get hair, makeup, and jewelry done before the dance.
Alexa Pfeiffer/News Tribune Vicky Anderson picks out jewelry at the jewelry table at the Night to Shine prom Friday at Capital West Christian Church. Guests could participate in makeovers after walking the red carpet and get hair, makeup, and jewelry done before the dance.

With cameras flashing and people clapping, Kings and Queens in suits and gowns walked down the red carpet.

With local law enforcement officers serving as escorts, many participants at Night to Shine smiled and waved to the cheerleaders and volunteers lined up on the side.

The annual Christian prom took place Friday evening at Capital West Christian Church Event Center, 1315 Fairgrounds Road. The event is open to anyone with a disability who is 14 or older. The church first held the event in 2017 and continued before halting in 2021 and 2022 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Around 700 people took part in Friday's celebration, said Todd Tellman, church elder and director of outreach. Nearly 200 were participants from the Central Missouri communities of Jefferson City, Sedalia, Mexico, Fulton, Lake of the Ozarks and more. The rest of the attendees were volunteers.

Johanna McKim was one of the volunteers. This year was the fourth time she has served as a buddy, she said. Her duties included meeting and taking the guest she was paired with to different booths at the event. Then, for the rest of the night, she would hang out by the side of her guest.

She said she was a member of the hair and makeup team during the first year the event was held, but switched to being a buddy in the years since because she saw the great time everyone was having.

"It's so exciting to see how much joy everyone who attends has. It's just a night full of fun, and (you) cast all your cares away and enjoy being together," McKim said.

During the event, male guests could get their shoes shined, while volunteers would help female guests touch up their makeup and hair. Guests could pick out jewelry, get their professional photos taken and sing karaoke. The event also prepared limousine rides, dance, a catered dinner and a sensory room for the guests, Tellman said. Each guest received a crown as well.

After the meal, the hosts played a video from Tim Tebow, whose foundation started the Night to Shine event. The former National Football League player then officially crowned the guests as prom Kings and Queens.

Solid Rock Church also hosted an event for the guests' caregivers at the same time so they could get a break and relax. They could watch a livestream of the prom's guests walking down the red carpet.

Tellman added the purpose of the event was to show God's love to people with disabilities.

"A lot of times our guests with special needs are overlooked by the community. We don't want that to happen," he said. "We want them to know they matter and that they're loved by everybody, especially God."

George Richardson said he has gone to this event for five years. The Jefferson City resident learned of the prom from a friend. He decided to attend again to see his friends and meet new people.

He liked the karaoke and dancing the most, and his favorite songs to sing were Michael Jackson's. The part of the event he looked forward to the most was when the organizer released rows of balloons at the end of the event.

"I like having fun," Richardson said, proudly wearing his golden crown.

photo Alexa Pfeiffer/News Tribune Jacob Saunders gets his boutonniere Friday at the Night to Shine prom at Capital West Christian Church. Each guest received a crown, makeovers, flowers and more in preparation for the dance.
photo Alexa Pfeiffer/News Tribune Patrick Baker performs karaoke for other the Night to Shine guests Friday at Capital West Christian Church. In addition to karaoke, guests had welcoming activities including photo booths and games to get ready for the dance.
photo Alexa Pfeiffer/News Tribune Destiny Yocum poses for a photo Friday night on the red carpet at the Night to Shine prom at Capital West Christian Church.
photo Alexa Pfeiffer/News Tribune Guests at Friday's Night to Shine prom could get their hair done by the hairstylists prior to the event at Capital West Christian Church.
photo Alexa Pfeiffer/News Tribune Rachael Wheeler walks the red carpet with Jefferson City Police Department officer Justin Goetz prior to Friday's Night to Shine Prom at Capital Christian Church.
photo Alexa Pfeiffer/News Tribune Guests at Friday's Night to Shine prom at Capital Christian Church play a cakewalk game for prizes of gift cards and candy.