Special Needs Adults Will Have Their Night to Shine Feb. 9

Jan 24, 2018
File Photo by: Ryan Morrill

“Wonderfully Made,” an outreach program at Bayside Chapel in Barnegat Township for children and young adults with special needs, is planning its second “Night to Shine” prom on Friday, Feb. 9, beginning at 6 p.m. Bill Beuckman, one of the coordinators, said the free event is not only for the people with special needs, but for their families as well.

“All the female guests will get their hair, nails and make-up done,” he said. “The male will get his shoes shined and groomed. They will all get the limo ride to the red carpet to the dance. They’ll have corsages and boutonnieres. There will also be a catered dinner, karaoke, portrait pictures and more. The guest can bring their family. A respite area where they can see the dance and have a catered dinner will be set up for them.”

Beuckman said last year’s inaugural event drew 127 guests and more than 300 volunteers.

Bayside will be joining more than 500 locations around the world in hosting a “Night to Shine.” It was launched in 2015 by former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow through his foundation.

Beuckman noted that during Valentine’s Day weekend of 2015, the foundation sponsored 44 simultaneous prom events in 26 states, as well as two locations in Uganda and Kenya. More than 7,000 people with special needs dressed in tuxes and gowns for their first prom experiences. Approximately 15,000 volunteers made the events happen around the globe, and at the end of the night, each of the participants was crowned as a king or queen of the night.

He said the foundation cut Bayside’s initial grant of $8,000 last year to $5,000.

“Eventually, the goal of the foundation is to make these events self-sustaining,” said Beuckman. “That way we get more of the community and local sponsors involved. And the money that we don’t get will be used by the foundation to help another group get started.”

He said to offset the grant loss, donations can be sent to Bayside Chapel at 965 West Bay Ave., Barnegat, N.J. 08005. Donors need to write “Night to Shine” in the memo area.   

Wonderfully Made meets on Thursday nights from 7 to 8:30. The age range is 11 to 28.

“We’re providing a safe place where special needs persons can be socially active and be involved with many fun activities,” said the Rev. David Ridder, senior pastor. “People with disabilities can sometimes feel isolated, and it may be stressful for the family and siblings because a person with special needs may need extensive care. We want to reach out to the person with special needs and their families.”

Beuckmann said interested persons can register for the prom by logging onto baysidenightoshine.org or by calling the church at 609-607-8323.

— Eric Englund

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