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Ridgewood Church hosting special needs prom – “It’s their special night” 

Port Arthur is rolling out the red carpet for a night of revelry, dancing, singing and royalty as Ridgewood Church, 2920 Lake Arthur Dr., hosts its second annual “Night to Shine” from 6-9 p.m. Feb. 7.

“Night to Shine is an unforgettable prom night experience, centered on God’s love for people with special needs ages 14 and older,” Ridgewood Pastor Dustin Guidry said.

The Tim Tebow Foundation launched the annual event in 2015, bringing millions of dollars, hundreds of churches and tens of thousands of volunteers together for one exceptional night around the world.

While the event is in its fifth anniversary year, Ridgewood is celebrating its second year as part of the team.

Ridgewood Church, for the first time last year, hosted ‘Night to Shine,’ which is a prom night experience focused on special needs students and young adults.

Memorial High, Port Neches-Groves High and Nederland High cheerleaders welcome special needs students to last year’s “Night to Shine.”

“This church has a history of reaching out to people that often times are forgotten in society,” Guidry said. “The mission of the Tim Tebow Foundation is to simply show God’s love to people who often times don’t get that love, so to be able to put this event on is a great way to shower His love to people who need it, to people who are deserving of it.”

Guidry said the number of guests, volunteers and sponsors rose since last year’s attendance.

“Our motto last year was ‘go big or go home,’” Guidry said. “We definitely went big and it was great. This year our guest registration maxed out capacity in about five weeks back in October. That says a lot about the excitement for its return.”

For Guidry, the night holds a personal note as his daughter, Gloria Beth, has Down Syndrome.

“I joke that my daughter thinks this event is for her,” he said. “But the reality is that for every guest we have here, they think this event is just for them — and it is. It’s just a special night to see the joy on my child’s face and to see every kid happy and know that they are loved.”

Port Neches-Groves High senior Aaron Gonzalez races down the red carpet at last year’s “Night to Shine” at Ridgewood Church in Port Arthur. (Courtesy photo)

 

Guests at last year’s “Night to Shine” participate on the dance floor. (Courtesy photo)

Guidry said he wants to extend a thank you to all sponsors, volunteers and teams that will make this night one to remember.

Guests are encouraged to arrive early to receive full makeovers, corsages and boutonnieres, shoes, dresses and attire before being paired with their buddy volunteer for a ride around the church in a limo.

The event kicks off at 6 p.m. with cheerleaders from Memorial, Nederland, Bob Hope and Port Neches-Groves High School welcoming guests down the red carpet.

Port Neches-Groves High School Principal Dr. Scott Ryan and life skills teacher Lauren Hanratty are bringing back the red carpet and lighted arches they contributed last year.

“I think that it makes them feel so special,” Hanratty said. “Last year, I was sobbing the whole time. It was so sweet. I loved watching them being so excited about something, and they should get to feel special like that all the time.”

Aron Broussard, a student who attended last year’s event, said his favorite part was singing “karaoke dokie” and dancing to the music.

Port Neches-Groves High School senior Aaron Gonzalez’s photo last year was added to the “Night to Shine” national event page during 2019’s prom at Ridgewood Church in Port Arthur. (Courtesy photo)

Jada Miller said her favorite part was wearing the crown that all visitors are given at the door.

Hanratty added she and all her students are excited to be returning to Ridgewood next weekend.

“Anything that makes them feel special and loved, I’m all about,” she said. “I love it because it’s their special night. They get to feel special. They get to be kings and queens at the end of the night. They definitely deserve to feel like that.”

Registration for guests is at capacity, but buddy volunteers and event volunteers are still able to register at ridgewoodchurch.us/ntsregistration.

For more information, visit nighttoshinesetx.com.

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