Barnegat Has a ‘Night to Shine’ at Bayside Chapel

Feb 14, 2018
Supplied Photo

At proms, one of the main events is the crowning of the king and queen. But on the night of Feb. 9 at Bayside Chapel in Barnegat Township, all the guests were kings and queens, as they wore crowns and tiaras.

This prom was like no other seen in Southern Ocean County, as its guests were teens and adults with special needs. The event was called “A Night to Shine,” and for the past four years the Tim Tebow Foundation has sponsored these events on the Saturday prior to Valentine’s Day in the United States and other parts of the world. 

Bayside Chapel hooked up with the Tebow Foundation through one of its newest ministries, Wonderfully Made, which reaches out to young adults with special needs and disabilities. Bill Beuckman, one of the local event coordinators, said the former pro football quarterback’s foundation provides each prom with financial support, decorations and gifts for each participant, and step-by-step guidance to make the free event prom a success.

“We had about 190 guests, which is approximately 75 more than last year’s inaugural event,” said Beuckman. “In those few hours, you’ll never see so much happiness, love, joy, happy tears and smiles. It really moved me.”

He said there were also approximately 300 volunteers, doing everything from food preparation and serving to tying a corsage. He said each guest came with a “buddy” who was on hand to assist with the person’s needs.

All the female guests got their hair, nails and make-up done, while the males got groomed and their shoes shined. They all wore corsages and boutonnieres. They were also treated to a ride in a limo, which arrived at the front of the building to a red carpet. Spotlights were shining into the night sky. 

“The looks on their faces, it was so beautiful to watch,” said Kylie Trapani, who volunteered her time styling hair. “For many, it was probably the greatest night of their lives.”

Inside the main sanctuary, Fresh New Angle DJs were pumping up the volume with pop electronic dance music hits. On the second floor was a respite room for family members, who enjoyed a catered dinner and could view the proceedings downstairs via video screen hookup.

Linda Pugliese of Barnegat Township said her son Joey attended last year and “couldn’t wait to come back again.”

“The church kept us updated throughout the year on when they were going to have the prom,” she said. “No way were we going to miss it.”

 “It’s beautiful, awesome,” said Elaine Taylor of Barnegat, who brought her son Alex to the event.

Manahawkin resident Bob Gray Jr., who came with his grandson Bobby Gray IV, added, “He was really getting a kick out of the limo ride, and then the walk on the red carpet. The joy that you see here is so authentic.”

Some even got a horse and carriage ride provided by Horsing Around of Forked River.

“There was a woman who was having so much fun she went on the carriage ride five times,” said owner Kevin Jester. “We really made her night. We even put her in the driver’s seat.”   

Chuck Dookins, DJ and partner in Fresh New Angle, said, “We do about 200 shows a year, and this is becoming our favorite gig. They’re out there having the time of their lives, and the joy is contagious.”  

Brian Preiser, Bayside’s director of student ministries, had quite an energetic night himself, as he was moving around from room to room to make sure everything ran without a hitch.

“It’s been an unbelievable night,” he said. “Everyone pulled together to make it a success.”      

— Eric Englund

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