Glitz and a surprise guest at prom for special-needs teens and adults

By Bobby Ross Jr. | For Religion News Service

OKLAHOMA CITY — A red carpet. Friendly paparazzi. Limousine rides.

All of the above greeted the special-needs teens and adults — most clad in tuxedos and fancy dresses, many using wheelchairs — who showed up at the Putnam City Baptist Church on the Friday night (Feb. 9) before Valentine’s Day.

Inside the Southern Baptist church’s sanctuary, a disco ball flashed colorful lights as 504 newly crowned prom kings and queens danced to hits such as “Footloose,” “Don’t Stop Believing” and “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin.’”

“This is what heaven is going to look like someday. There’s nothing but angels here,” said Stacie Cadle, a volunteer buddy paired with a king named Larry Yokley. She characterized him as “the best dancer with a smile that melted everyone in the room.”

At 537 churches in all 50 states and 16 countries, “Night to Shine” events sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation this past weekend aimed to deliver “an unforgettable prom night experience, centered on God’s love” for 90,000 people with autism, Down syndrome and other special needs, the foundation reported.

Here in the Sooner State, the honored guests — ranging in age from 14 to 74 — got an unexpected surprise when Tebow himself stepped to the microphone.

Read the full story.

Related: For special-needs kings and queens, a Night to Shine (reporting from Fort Smith, Ark., for The Christian Chronicle)

Religion News Service is a national wire service whose media partners include The Associated Press, USA Today and the Washington Post.