Guests treated like royalty at prom for special needs community

Posted at 6:45 PM, Feb 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-10 18:45:27-05

A prom unlike any other is happening tonight, thrown by the Tim Tebow Foundation and local churches.

Every guest gets to be prom king or queen. They arrive in limos, get prom photos taken, and get crowns or tiaras. More than 170 people with special needs are the honored guests at Night to Shine.

“This is a chance for her to dress up, and be special, like all girls feel when they go to their proms…” Teresa Rodriguez said.

This is the first time her daughter, Christina Rodriguez, is going to a formal dance. She loves it on the dance floor, especially when Michael Jackson is playing.

Prom is a day her mom has waited for, maybe even more than Christina.

“Nineteen years later, yes she, she, it’s a very emotional time," Teresa said.

Perhaps it's more emotional because Christina's dad isn't here to see it. Rick passed away several months ago, but loved to see Christina dressed up.

“Oh you’re pretty, you are dressed pretty, Rick calm down haha,” Christina remembered.

Friday night, Christina is getting dolled up. She'll be celebrating with more than 170 other people with special needs. This is one of two proms in Tampa Bay. One, thrown by the Tim Tebow Foundation and Christian Family Church, has more than doubled in size since last year.

"The Tampa Bay community is coming together to just have fun and just embrace them and not reject them because they are truly loved by us and they’re truly loved by god,” Sarahi Medina, Night to Shine Tampa coordinator, said.

There are hundreds of similar proms around the country Friday night, but there's a chance Tim Tebow could show up here. Christina will be partying either way.

"I’ll probably be in tears but she will definitely have a big 'ole smile on her face the whole night,” Teresa said.

To volunteer for the next Night to Shine, visit