Forever queen: Tallahassee's Night to Shine prom honors spirit of Kimmy
体育在线365Each year The Tim Tebow Foundation sponsors , one of America’s most endearing and memorable events. Taking place in over 600 locations across the country, Night to Shine is an extraordinary opportunity for people with special needs, both young and old, to experience all the excitement of going to a prom.
体育在线365This year, on Feb. 7, Tallahassee will host its sixth Night to Shine celebration, orchestrated by Pastor Scott Hunter and the Genesis Church
体育在线365As in previous years, Night to Shine will have all the pomp and pageantry that is found in the finest galas. The increased popularity of this event In Tallahassee has required a change in venue. This year’s Night to Shine will be located at the North Florida Fairgrounds to accommodate the more than a thousand special needs guests and their escorts (buddies) that will be in attendance.
Through generous donations by area residents and businesses every special guest is given the royal treatment. Dresses, suits, shoes and accessories are made available for each guest at no cost. Hairdressers and makeup specialists are on hand to primp the girls while the guys are fitted for the right suit and to have a shine put on their shoes. Of course, no prom would be complete without each guest receiving their own corsage or boutonniere.
Volunteers, many of them students from area colleges and universities, become guest buddies to escort their “date” for the evening. There is plenty of food, karaoke singing, socializing with new and old acquaintances and then dancing, lots and lots of dancing.
体育在线365Entertainment this year will include Voice’s contestant Royce Lovett and the FSU Circus. The evening concludes with the crowning of each guest as a king and queen of the prom.
This year’s Night to Shine in Tallahassee has special meaning as it honors a very special person — Kimmy Harvin. Kimmy started at the Genesis Church about 4 years ago, at the age of 12, to participate in the Special Needs Church program. While not being able to communicate verbally, Kimmy’s expressive facial cues and body language made her the darling of the church.
“We fell in love with Kimmy immediately as we watched her dance to the worship music on the front row each Sunday tethered to her small oxygen tank,” said Scott Hunter, Pastor of the Genesis Church. “You knew she could feel the spirit of the music by her rocking back and forth and clapping her little hands.”
Two years ago, Kimmy turned 14 and was eligible to attend Night to Shine. She was excited to wear the pretty red dress that was picked out just for her. However, that year Kimmy did not get to wear the dress to the prom as she ended up in ICU with a severe respiratory infection. So, the church staff brought the prom to Kimmy. They dressed her in her pretty red dress and dolled her up with a makeup and hair stylist. Kimmy became queen of her own prom, complete with a sparkling tiara.
体育在线365Last year, Kimmy got to wear that red dress to the actual Night to Shine. Words could not begin to express the joy and excitement that radiated from her, nor from the volunteers and guests at the prom. It was definitely her “Night to Shine” and it was her night to dance. However, as fate would intervene, it would be her last prom to dance. In December Kimmy passed away at the early age of 16 due to health complications.
“This is why Night to Shine matters,” said Hunter. “You never know how long our friends and loved ones with special needs will be with us. Many of them have health conditions that do not guarantee them a long life. What we do at Night to Shine is to give them an opportunity to celebrate their precious lives now and to give them a night they will never forget.”
This year, as every year, as the prom comes to an end, there will be the final major event, the crowning of every attending guest, all 1,000 plus of them. Each being escorted with their special buddy to cap off one memorable evening.
体育在线365Though Kimmy Harvin will not be physically present, she will be fully remembered during the crowning ceremony and in the Parents Prom room there will be a special remembrance tree with scores of falling snowflakes in memory of Kimmy.
体育在线365“Kimmy will forever be our queen”, said Pastor Hunter. “Though she will not be with us this year or at future proms, she now dances every day in heaven wearing a much better crown. The falling snowflakes not only gives memory to one special guest, but to all people with special needs and to symbolize God’s love to all.“
Night to Shine requires many volunteers, donations, and sponsors to make it a memorable celebration for people with special needs. If you would like to volunteer, donate or just want to know more about this extraordinary event please log onto .
体育在线365This event not only has a profound effect on those with special needs but also to all those who help make it happen.
John Waldron is a substitute teacher for Leon County and participates in local programs for people with special needs and for children with Type 1 diabetes.
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