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Those with special needs get “prom night” at Spokane church


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By Megan Carroll

The Tim Tebow Foundation brought “Night to Shine,” its yearly celebration of those with special needs, to the Spokane community Friday night.

Women get their hair done for Night to Shine/Photo by Kristian Anderson – Podium Media

At the prom-like event, participants danced, posed for photos and sang along to hits old and new at New Community Church, located on E. Trent Avenue. The event was free through a grant from the foundation started by ex-football player and Scottsdale Scorpions outfielder Tim Tebow.

The night included a craft station, food provided by Tomato Street, limo rides, and free beauty treatments.

“It’s really cool because we have a lot of great organizations helping us out,” said Julie Jones, pastor of Connections, Belonging and Engagement at New Community. “Tomato Street was incredibly generous, kind and helpful. Craft Hair Salon donated their space and salon so we could do hair, and somebody who worked at Aveda helped us out with showing us how to do makeup.”

The Spokane Fire Department also aided the church and sent medics to be on-hand for the event, Jones said.

David Dommermuth, a senior at Gonzaga University and coordinator with Gonzaga University Specialized Recreation (GUSR), approached New Community about the event in the fall. He began attending the church his freshman year of college and volunteering with GUSR his sophomore year. His sister with Down Syndrome attended a “Night to Shine” event at their home church in Virginia.

“It was wildly successful, and when my sister went to it, she had a blast,” he said. “She said the limo rides were the highlight of her night, and I thought it would be fun to bring something like that to Spokane because I knew Coeur D’Alene did it last year.”

New Community applied for the scholarship late and Dommermuth thought the event might not come to fruition. However, the foundation contacted the church in November to notify them that they had received the grant.

Night to Shine was held for those with special needs/Kristian Anderson – Podium Media

“All of these dates that were deadlines had passed, so Julie and I essentially just started kicking it into high gear,” he said.

New Community often works alongside GUSR, though Jones said there is not an official partnership between the two groups. The church also has a close relationship with L’Arche, an assisted living facility for disabled adults in Spokane. Participants came from both groups and others like Player Adaptive Soccer Skills (PASS).

“We have a whole community of people from L’Arche that come to church here every Sunday, and we love them,” Jones said. “A lot of people that go to church here work at L’Arche as well, so there’s that connection as well, and there are a lot of GU students that come to New Community. We have a huge heart for these community members.”

Katie Tietsort, a physical therapist and member of New Community, attended the event without knowing any of the participants. She met a new friend named Joan on the dance floor.

“New Community tries really hard to reach out and love on the people of Spokane in any way possible,” she said.

Throughout the night, Tietsort accompanied Joan for a limo ride, trip to the beauty chair for some glitter, a bang trim and curls in her hair, and a photo session. Joan said she would “definitely do it again” and had a fun night with her new friend.

Dommermuth described the event as a way for community members to “open up” to others.

“It’s a great platform for people to feel like they’re not being judged,” he said. “They come to this environment and people are having so much fun…letting loose, and dancing like no one’s watching. This event goes right along with the Center for Community Action and Service Leaning’s mission [at Gonzaga] in empowering everyone to have infinite worth.”

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Megan Carroll
Megan Carroll
Megan Carroll is a senior journalism major and interdisciplinary arts minor — which combines her passions for music, theater and dance — at Gonzaga University. Her professional writing experience apart from FāVS includes work with Gonzaga’s Marketing and Communications department (Gonzaga News Service and Gonzaga Magazine), freelance feature and entertainment writing with local daily The Spokesman-Review, and freelance writing for Northwest Catholic Magazine’s website. When she is not writing, Megan enjoys hanging out with adults diagnosed with developmental disabilities at GU Specialized Recreation, singing in voice lessons or GU Concert Choir, dancing, enjoying the outdoors, exercising, and spending time with her wonderful friends and family. A Las Vegas native and avid hiker, she enjoys the beautiful scenery, change of pace and different climate in Spokane. She worshipped in the non-denominational Christian church throughout most of her life, but was recently baptized and confirmed a Catholic. Discussions surrounding interreligious dialogue and religious pluralism in coursework and beyond have led her to many religion reporting passion projects.

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