Night to Shine gears up to give people of all abilities a prom to remember

Volunteers are decorating for the event Friday

SALEM, Va. – A night for people of all abilities to be recognized and appreciated.

“They can walk the red carpet and be cheered and celebrated for who they are,” Night to Shine planning team member Patrice Smelser said.

Friday, Night to Shine is back in Roanoke for its biggest year yet.

Planning team member Patrice Smelser tells 10 News they have over 450 guests so far, all with different disabilities or special needs.

“It tells me that we have a lot of people in our community who feel isolated or kind of cast aside,” Smelser said.

Smelser says they have a wide range of ages.

“We have people that are in their teenage years, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, we’ve had 80-year-olds come that have never been able to come to a prom or a party or any of those kinds of things,” she said.

Caretakers and parents are also invited for dinner of their own.

“Parents and caregivers a lot of times are very isolated because their lives are very different than ours, there’s so many extra things that have to be done so it’s nice for them to know they’re wanted too,” she said.

At the end of the night, everyone is crowned a king or queen, something Smelser tells us sticks with them for a long time, especially for one boy who attended a few years ago.

“He got really sick right after Night to Shine and ended up passing away, but he had his crown on when he did, and he told everybody in the hospital about how he was a king,” she said.

At the end of the day, they want everyone there to know they are loved.

“The whole point of the evening is for our guests to know how much god loves them, and how much we love them, and that they are wanted and cherished and that they are really precious people, and we just want to celebrate them for the whole evening,” she said.

They are still looking for volunteers up until the day of the dance.

Information on how to register or volunteer can be found here.

About the Author:

Abbie Coleman officially joined the WSLS 10 News team in January 2023.