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Local Medina County News

'Night to Shine' celebrated in Brunswick

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    Terri Krul (foreground) helped lead a cheering section of dozens of people who greeted attendees entering the "Night to Shine" prom for special needs young people and adults at Diamond Event Center in Brunswick.

    LAWRENCE PANTAGES / GAZETTE

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    Pastor Jay Carroll of Brunswick Reformed Church helped coordinate "Night to Shine," a prom for special needs young people and adults held Friday at Diamond Event Center in Brunswick.

    LAWRENCE PANTAGES / GAZETTE

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    A portrait photo area was part of the "Night to Shine" special needs prom event held Friday night at Diamond Event Center in Brunswick.

    LAWRENCE PANTAGES / GAZETTE

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    Attendees enter the Diamond Event Center banquet room in Brunswick on Friday for the event called "Night to Shine," a prom for special needs young people and adults.

    LAWRENCE PANTAGES / GAZETTE

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    A banner welcomed attendees Friday to the Diamond Event Center in Brunswick for a "Night to Shine" prom for special needs young people and adults.

    LAWRENCE PANTAGES / GAZETTE

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    A pamper area at the Diamond Event Center in Brunswick made final preparations for attendees at the "Night to Shine" prom event. The hairdresser is Robin Faughner of Brunswick, who is styling Jennifer Boehnlein of Medina.

    LAWRENCE PANTAGES / GAZETTE

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    A "buddy" system was used for attendees at Friday's "Night to Shine" prom event for special needs young people and adults. Shown from left are Cora Carroll, a buddy with Billy Mitchell (second from left). Carolyn Feeney (third from left) was paired with Manjit Sahota.

    LAWRENCE PANTAGES / GAZETTE

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    Billy Mitchell of Brunswick attended the "Night to Shine" event at Diamond Event Center on Friday night in Brunswick with shoes that glowed in the dark.

    LAWRENCE PANTAGES / GAZETTE

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    Mindy Bazemore and daughter Hannah Bazemore of Sharon Township volunteered Friday night to be "buddies" at the "Night to Shine" prom for special needs young people and adults at Diamond Event Center in Brunswick.

    LAWRENCE PANTAGES / GAZETTE

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    A crowd of volunteers welcomed attendees to the "Night to Shine" prom for special needs yount people and adults on Friday at Diamond Event Center in Brunswick.

    LAWRENCE PANTAGES / GAZETTE

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A special prom night was celebrated Friday in Brunswick as part of a worldwide event, all with the help of a famous athlete’s foundation.

Brunswick Reformed Church and more than 350 churches worldwide hosted Night to Shine, an event partially sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation, a former Florida college football star.

There were 104 special-needs adults dressed in their best formalwear getting pictures taken by a professional photographer on a red carpet, riding in one of two limousines and dancing the night away at Diamond Event Center, 1480 Pearl Road.

The Rev. Jay Carroll said the church teamed up with the foundation after hearing from another church that was having a similar event.

“We got the paperwork, went online and found out around Thanksgiving we were approved,” he said.

A grant for $7,500 was given to the church to cover costs. Adding in sponsorships and community donations, all 104 guests attended free.

Community members also “overwhelmed” the church with donations, including food, people’s time, and money, Carroll said.

The prom is held each year close to Valentine’s Day, Carroll said.

More than 75,000 special-needs individuals attended the event worldwide Friday.

Carroll said the church previously charged $15 per person when it held the event the previous six years.

Brunswick Reformed Church has a ministry program called God’s Friends Forever, which has had weekly meetings each Thursday for the last decade. Carroll said that the prom was an enjoyable way for members of the special-needs community to get together.

‘No agenda’

Carroll said he believes that Tebow did not start the foundation for notoriety. “To me, there’s no agenda. There’s no political tie or attempting to receive fame,” but rather to help people feel good about themselves, he added.

The “Night to Shine” provides a social opportunity for special-needs individuals ages 14 to adult, their caregivers and volunteers.

Each attendee was teamed with a “buddy,” who encouraged everyone to dance, have photos taken or go for a limousine ride.

Carroll said the church also was able to make arrangements for four guests at the last minute.

Guests received a goodie-bag filled with items including a frame to hold professionally taken pictures.

He noted that 225 volunteers as well as special-needs caregivers were celebrated.

The foundation gave guidelines for the prom that specified caregivers receive pampering with live music and a masseuse, Carroll said.

Mother-daughter combination

Dressed in gowns awaiting their “buddies” for the night were mother and daughter Mindy and Hannah Bazemore, of Sharon Township.

Mindy, a social worker, and Hannah, a student at Notre Dame South Euclid, decided to volunteer as buddies after hearing about the event through Brunswick Reformed Church, where they attend.

“They started talking about it at church,” prompting interest, Hannah said.

They were teamed with a special-needs couple, with whom they communicated by telephone to become acquainted before the prom, Mindy said.

“We were told they (the couple) like to kiss,” Hannah said, giggling.

For more information on Night to Shine and the foundation, visit timtebowfoundation.org.

Contact reporter Ashley Fox at (330) 721-4048 or afox@medina-gazette.com.

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