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“Night to Shine” illuminates special needs community

Ridgewood Baptist Church, 2920 Lake Arthur Dr., rolled out the red carpet for one magical night. Churchgoers, volunteers and buddies attended the second annual “Night to Shine” event to celebrate the special needs community in a night of royalty.

“Night to Shine” is an annual event launched around the world by the Tim Tebow Foundation to provide an unforgettable prom experience for young adults with special needs.

Pastor Dustin Guidry joined more than 500 churches worldwide to bring the event to Port Arthur for the second year in a row.

Volunteers, churchgoers, parents and family escorted their guests down the red carpet Friday at Ridgewood Baptist Church for the second annual “Night to Shine” event. (Cassandra Jenkins/The News)

“The night was magical,” Guidry said. “I didn’t think we could top last year, but we did. The smiles, the laughs on all of our guests’ and volunteers’ faces, it’s just magical. It speaks loudly for everybody that attended that they are blessed beyond measure.”

The night included a jam-packed dance floor, photo booth, karaoke, food provided by Chick-fil-A and more than 50 other volunteer vendors, media and red carpet cheerleaders.

After walking the red carpet, guests and their buddies stopped to take a photo in front of the national “Night to Shine” banner. (Cassandra Jenkins/The News)

Guidry said the event exceeded their expectations, drawing in 151 honored guests, 162 event volunteers and 183 buddy volunteers. Even though the confetti is just now settling, Guidry said they are already looking forward to next year.

“We have our first board meeting this week to debrief what went well and what can be better next year,” he said. “It was so amazing, we are already looking forward to 2021.”

Port Neches-Groves High School senior Aaron Gonzalez hits the dance floor. (Cassandra Jenkins/The News)

Guests and their volunteers participate in various dances in the middle of the floor. (Cassandra Jenkins/The News)

Honored guests and their volunteers were welcome to a buffet of fruit, cookies and chicken bites from Chick-fil-A. (Cassandra Jenkins/The News)

Elizabeth Tatum, right, poses with her aunt Lisa Simmons, left, during a dance session. (Cassandra Jenkins/The News)

Brian, an honored guest at the Second Annual “Night to Shine” prom event, sings Daughtry in the karaoke room. (Cassandra Jenkins/The News)

Lauren Hanratty, life skills teacher at Port Neches-Groves High School, enjoys dancing with her students. (Cassandra Jenkins/The News)

Honored guests and volunteers at Ridgewood Baptist Church’s second annual “Night to Shine” raise their hands during Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the USA.” (Cassandra Jenkins/The News)

Jada Miller, a student of Port Neches-Groves High School’s life skills class, smiles while dancing with her designated buddy volunteer, Raegan Hudspeth. (Cassandra Jenkins/The News)

Honored guests received crowns and tiaras at the end of Ridgewood Baptist’s Church second annual “Night to Shine” prom night. (Cassandra Jenkins/The News)