CASPER, Wyo. — On Feb. 10, Wyomingites with special needs will be able to enjoy a fun-filled night at the annual Night to Shine prom, hosted by the Tim Tebow Foundation.
Now in its sixth year locally, the Night to Shine is a global event held in more than 80 countries and all 50 states, and it aims to celebrate those with special needs. The event is open to all special needs individuals ages 14 and up. The prom — which is free to attend — will be hosted at Highland Park Community Church, 5725 Highland Drive, and will last from 6 to 9 p.m.
“We want to highlight them and give them a night to shine, as the name suggests,” Wyoming Night to Shine coordinator Barbara Flinn said.
All the hallmarks of a prom are present, and attendees will be given a corsage or boutonniere, will be given limo rides and will all be crowned king and queen at the end of the night, Flinn said. The night will also feature karaoke, food, dancing and more.
“One of the greatest parts is when they come down the red carpet,” Flinn said. “There’s so many people clapping and cheering and letting them know they’re valued and loved. It’s amazing to watch.”
Though this is the Night to Shine’s sixth year, it’s the first that will be in person since 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic forced the prom to be relegated to drive-thru events in 2021 and 2022.
“We did drive-thrus because I thought it was still important we put it on in some way, but it feels great to be having a proper, in-person prom again,” Flinn said. “I know everyone is really excited for it.”
Before the pandemic, the event typically drew roughly 700 participants from around the state, Flinn said. With this being its first year back, she said she’s hoping for closer to 1,000 participants this year.
Those who want to take part in the festivities can register online at Highland Park Community Church’s website, and Flinn added that registration will be open until the night of, since many people aren’t able to decide whether they’re going until they see what that day’s weather is like.
Flinn also said the event is looking for volunteers to help make the night run smoothly. Those who want to lend their time can register as a volunteer on the church’s website as well, and the deadline for potential volunteers to sign up is Jan. 31.
“For that population, there’s not a lot of events that are geared just for them. And that’s why I think this is so special,” Flinn said. “And while it’s in a church, it’s not really a ‘church event.’ It’s an event for the whole community — the whole state.”