Photos by Rome City Schools
Most of us remember how special it was to enjoy a night on the town and dancing under the twinkling lights of a disco ball for our high school prom.
Tim Tebow’s foundation has worked with over 655 churches around the world to offer a night like the one we remember for over 100,000 guests with special needs. The only thing he asks of attendees who are 14 years of age and older is that they show up prepared to have the time of their lives.
Because everyone deserves a special night, Tebow has named this event a Night to Shine, and our most valued community members and students did not disappoint.
Rome’s Pleasant Valley South was kind enough to host students and adults from all of Floyd County. Community volunteers also gave their services to all of the VIPs before they walked a red carpet lined with educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, clergy, family and friends. Some of the services included hair and makeup, formal wear, limo rides to the event and dinner before the dancing commenced.
Rome and Floyd County’s Homecoming kings and queens from local schools, pageant winners and those who were crowned as honored members of civic clubs lent their arms for guests who did not have dates.
“Night to Shine is Tim Tebow’s way of holding proms across the nation and beyond. Rome City Schools was happy to get involved when Pleasant Valley South decided to host the event. The church was so kind to reach out to all of the area schools,” said Kriszti Kilpatrick, Director of Special Education for Rome City Schools. “Our teachers jumped right on board and have helped them to find their dresses and their suits, get their hair done and organize their transportation. In addition to children from all over the county and our 20 students from Rome City Schools, there will also be adults attending tonight. This is such a special night for us all.”
Katie Stout is an eighth grade teacher at Rome Middle School and she did not hesitate to offer help. “Tonight we asked the boys and girls to come in and get their hair brushed, styled and straightened and the girls also got to pick out what nail color they would like to have,” said Stout. “We also helped them with makeup. We wanted them to feel glamorous, but we also wanted them to be comfortable. It is so important for everyone to have a night that is all about them.”
For young Anthony Threadgill, a student at Rome High School, the dancing came second to his favorite part of the evening. “I am really looking forward to the food,” Threadgill smiled. “Tonight I wanted to dress fresh and dance. I also want to say thank you to the people who helped put this together for us.”
“This really means a lot to Anthony and our family because some of these children don’t have a chance to experience a night like this one,” said Anthony’s mother and Special Education Parent Mentor for RCS, Caroline Threadgill. “He has been excited all month in anticipation of tonight’s dance.”
“This is so exciting and so much fun,” said Marcus Hayes who is a Rome High School student and dressed to impress for the night. Sporting a black suit and tie, one would be hard-pressed to find another gentleman in the crowd that was more dapper. “I really love getting to meet new people.”
Annalise Uldrick, who is also a student in Rome City Schools, volunteered to escort guests who did not have a date. Uldrick is no stranger to giving back. She explained that her family spends a lot of their free time offering help to others when needed. “I feel so blessed, so something like enjoying a night of dancing with my classmates who may not get the joy of going to prom is really special to me. I love this time I get to spend with them. My father is a youth minister and he has taught me how to have a servant’s heart. We go on mission trips often with church and he is a very giving person. He is the main person who has helped me to see the importance of giving back.”
Another RCS educator, Alison Ross, has taught a self-contained class at Rome High for the past 11 years. She said that getting all of the students together for a night of fun is a shining example of why she loves what she does in the school. “I just love to see them all so excited. This is their time. They get to see friends they would normally not meet with who are their peers and they get to meet so many wonderful people in our community who contribute so much to the place we call home,” Ross said. “We have not been able to get anything done in class all week because they have been waiting on this day!” she laughed.
Connie Clark was also present to support her son and she echoed many of the same things heard during conversations all night long. “This is awesome because there is really nothing around town for our children to be involved with their peers outside of school and have a night of fun. After last year’s Night to Shine event, he was already asking when the next event was going to happen,” she said.
“This is their night, a night they all deserve and need to be a part of,” Kilpatrick said. “I want to send a huge thank you to Tim Tebow and his organization, to Pleasant Valley Church, to the community members and students who have volunteered their time and, most of all, to our students and their families for making this a event one we will all remember and cherish for a very long time.”