Donna Fullington applies lipstick as she prepares for the Night to Shine dance Friday at her home in Fayette. Fullington has been looking forward to the dance all year. “I have never been so nervous and excited as I am right now,” Fullington said.
Carrie Jackson, right, places a white flower in Donna Fullington’s hair Friday in Fayette, ahead of Night to Shine in Columbia. Jackson spends four days a week working as Fullington’s caretaker. “We have become extremely close,” Jackson said. “I even gave her away at her wedding!”
A crowd cheers for the guests as they arrive at the red carpet Friday, Feb. 7 at the Night to Shine dance at The Crossing in Columbia. "This night is for them," paparazzi member Tricia Tonnies said. "We want to make sure they feel as celebrated and special as they truly are."
Faith Jones arrives at the red carpet in a pink sequined dress carrying a red rose Friday at the Night to Shine dance at The Crossing in Columbia. She was escorted by Davonte Reedea. "I have never seen her so happy and beautiful," Reedea said.
Donna Fullington smiles as she walks onto the dance floor Friday at the Night to Shine dance at The Crossing in Columbia. Fullington picked up the skirt of her peach gown and stepped onto the dance floor with confidence.
Davonte Reedea was crowned prom king Friday at the Night to Shine dance at The Crossing in Columbia. The event gives each individual the chance to feel like royalty by crowning every guest as prom kings and queens.
Gary Jackson looks up at the light show in awe after being crowned one of the prom kings Friday at the Night to Shine dance at The Crossing in Columbia. “I am the king,” Jackson said. “Now I just need to find my queen.”
More than 100 guests received the Hollywood treatment Friday at Night to Shine, a prom for people over the age of 14 with disabilities.
The event, which was hosted by The Crossing, included a red carpet, limo rides, flowers, photos, a DJ, dance floor and more, all at no cost to guests.
In one room, guests could get their hair and makeup done or shoes shined. In another, they could relax in a quiet “sensory room” with dimmed lighting.
One volunteer, Kay Hake, said that one of her favorite things about the event is that guests are paired with volunteers who stay with them throughout the night while their caretakers relax in a separate building with dinner and live music.
“It’s a wonderful event for everyone,” Hake said. “Their caregivers can come and get the night off.”
Night to Shine is held annually, typically by a church in the Columbia community. This was The Crossing’s first time hosting the event, and it almost didn’t happen, according to Carla Fletcher, member of The Crossing’s planning committee.
“When word was getting out that it wasn’t happening this year, a lot of people were upset, so we jumped in last minute,” Fletcher said.
In January, the Columbia Parks and Recreation Adapted Sports Department hosted the third annual Say Yes to the Dress event, where participants could find dresses and jewelry, donated by community members and Cinderella’s Closet, for the dance.
Night to Shine is sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation. According to its website, 721 churches across all 50 states hosted the event this year.
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