Special needs prom draws nine from area schools
Kings and queens of all ages were treated like royalty Friday night at Kerrville’s annual Night to Shine event.
Night to Shine, sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation, is a prom-like experience for people with special needs, ages 14 and older.
Nine students from Fredericksburg Middle School and Fredericksburg High School took part in the event with assistance from Life Skills teacher Marissa Cromier, who has been involved with the organization for the last three years.
“Every year I get to witness my students, along with around 130 other special needs youth and adults, get treated like the royalty they are,” Cromier said. “There is nothing like a special-needs prom. They never leave the dance floor.”
About the event
Night to Shine helps provide hair, makeup, corsages, shoe-shines and more.
Cromier helped girls find dresses at re-dress, a local pop-up boutique, and set up tuxedo rentals for boys.
For the Brian and Lacey Vorauer, a family with a special needs child Brianna, and other parents, Night to Shine has been a special time for students to feel pampered in the days leading up to the event.
“These kids feel like [royalty] in the days leading up, feeling pampered with preparations like hair, nails, makeup and dress shopping. We look forward to it every year,” Lacey Vorauer said.
On the day of the event, students gathered in Cromier’s class to get ready, from hair to makeup to last minute details.
Students and volunteers traveled to Kerrville on a party bus.
Schreiner University hosted the event, complete with a red carpet, paparazzi, a formal dinner and plenty of dancing.
At the end of each night, each participant is crowned king or queen.
While students are out dancing the night way, parents are treated to some time to themselves.
“Another wonderful aspect is that the parents get treated to their own dinner and time of fellowship, while their children are cared for by the hundreds of volunteers,” Cromier said.
Without the support of parents and volunteers, Cromier said none of this would be possible.
“I am very fortunate to have a relationship with parents past and present. They trust me with their kids for the evening,” she said.
For parents, it is an opportunity to see their kids participate in an event specifically for them.
“It is special for parents to see their children looking so beautiful and handsome and to see them board the party bus,” Cromier said.
“She is such a gift to our kids, going out of her way to love them like they are her own, giving tirelessly of her time and talents,” Lacey said. “We all hope for the best for our children, whether they have special needs or not. Our jobs are the same and it just makes us happy to have something like this to attend.”
A special passion
Cromier has been in education for 21 years.
Her career began with teaching at the elementary level but an opportunity arose for her to work at the high school level in special education.
“I found it was so rewarding to work with the special needs population and have been doing so for the last 13 years,” she said.
Cromier’s students have a variety of abilities, but each comes to school and does their absolute best, she said.
“My philosophy has always been to focus on their strengths and build them up to be as successful and independent as possible,” she said.
The Vorauers were especially gracious of Cromier when Brian was deployed in the military.
“She stood by Brianna and really helped her through what she was feeling,” Lacey said. “She is like another mother to our daughter. Brianna loves her and I know that all of ‘her kids’ do, too.”
Cromier praised her assistants, Vivianna Plaza, Maria Rosales and Patricia Knaupp for helping make the night so special.
Cromier encourages anyone who is interested in Night to Shine to learn more.
“My biggest wish is for more businesses in Fredericksburg to be a sponsor so more of our special needs youth and adults can attend this special, free event,” she said.
To learn more, visit timtebowfoundation.org/ministries/night-to-shine.