Teens and adults with special needs get a 'Night to Shine'

Teens and adults with special needs get a 'Night to Shine'
Anna Moates (Source: WALB)
Anna Moates (Source: WALB)
Event Chairman Valerie Moates (Source: WALB)
Event Chairman Valerie Moates (Source: WALB)
Justin Willis (Source: WALB)
Justin Willis (Source: WALB)
Tracy and Lisa Willis (Source:WALB)
Tracy and Lisa Willis (Source:WALB)

AMERICUS, GA (WALB) - South Georgia teens and adults with special needs got to enjoy an experience of a lifetime, going to the prom.

And more than 1,200 people came to Americus to witness a 'Night to Shine'.

The event at the First Baptist Church of Americus was co-sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation.

A total of 550 Night to Shine prom events took place in all 50 states and 16 countries around the globe.

For the third year in a row, First Baptist Church rolled out the red carpet for over 150 guests of honor.

This is a chance for individuals with disabilities to be a part of something significant and have have a special moment that every one should have.

Event Chairman, Valerie Moates organized the event because it is a cause that hits close to home.

"Also, I'm a parent. My daughter Anna has Down syndrome. She is 20 years old, I'm actually doing double duty. I'm a parent and a member of the committee that puts this on and it's just a phenomenal feeling," explained Moates.

Along with red carpet treatments, guests enjoyed professional pictures, limousine rides, hair and makeup stations, a game room, karaoke and dinner before dancing.

The Willis family said this is an evening they look forward to every year because they didn't know if their son Justin would ever get to experience it.

"A couple hours, two to three hours, he gets to be like everyone else. He gets to be like every other teenager in America," said Tracy Willis.

Lisa Willis said something so simple as getting fitted for his very first tuxedo was a special moment.

"He looked at us and started clapping and said, 'This is awesome,'" said Lisa.

The Tim Tebow Foundation and First Baptist Church, year after year, give them something they will forever be grateful for.

"I think that's what makes it so special for us and our family is that he get a chance to be out there with his friends enjoying life," said Tracy.

Moates hopes that surrounding cities will see how much the Americus community loves the event and will bring a 'Night to Shine' to their town.

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