BRANFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — 53-year-old John Izzo missed out on a rite of passage that everyone should experience. He has never been to prom.
“I was in the Special Ed class,” he says. “I don’t know why but we didn’t go.” But that will change on Friday evening when he heads to Night To Shine sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation.
“The idea behind Night To Shine is that it’s a prom for our special needs community 14 years and up,” says Pastor Paul Allen of the Shoreline Community Church in Branford, one of 700 churches around the globe to hold the event simultaneously in a show of fellowship and solidarity.
The prom takes place at Bill Miller’s Castle.
“They come in, they walk the red carpet. There’s going to be paparazzi. There’s going to be signs and limo rides,” explains event coordinator Vanessa Fleming-Redd. “It just makes them feel special, it makes them feel loved, makes them feel wanted – gives them all those feelings that we get when we are shown love from other people.”
19-year-old Lea Campagna is grateful to the Tim Tebow Foundation which donates $3.5 million to assist churches in hosting the event.
“I know he played football and I love football, so, I have experience with that,” she says.
In the last six years, 100,000 people with special needs have been treated to this unforgettable experience.
Campagna already has her gown and is excited to see who is crowned king and queen.
“It’s going to be an amazing night and I know it’s going to be,” says Campagna. “I can’t wait to go to this prom.”
This year’s event is all sold out! But, keep it on your radar. Organizers intend to make this an annual event on the shoreline.