A Night to Shine: Formal-wear giveaway held ahead of prom for people with special needs

MUKWONAGO -- There were sequins and bows -- tulle and jewelry -- at the Mukwonago Thrift Store Saturday, Jan. 18 -- but the real sparkes came from the faces of guests preparing for a very memorable night.

"It's just, a great community effort," said Julie Scheibe, executive pastor at Brooklife Church in Mukwonago.

The church hosted a formal-wear giveaway for people with special needs, ages 14 and older, attending the 2020 "Night to Shine" event at the church.

Alycia Henzig

"I'm looking forward to dancing around," said Alycia Henzig.

More than 500 dresses and suits were donated for them to boogie in.

"Your heart is just filled," said Scheibe. "What we found is such a love for people."

The big event was scheduled for Friday, Feb. 7 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Brooklife Church, with guests, people with special needs, ages 14 and up, set to enjoy the royal treatment, including red carpet pictures, a corsage, crown, limo ride, dinner, and dancing, plus a night filled with love and memories to take home.

Tammy Connolly (L) and Alycia Henzig (R)

Tammy Connolly

"It's something they can treasure," said Tammy Connolly.

Connolly has been involved with the event since the beginning. She and her son have been attending since the Tim Tebow Foundation -- which hosts the event -- started it six years ago.

"My son, Benjamin, is autistic," said Connolly. "He is 25. We got involved because we like to make his world a little bigger, and ask his friends to join him in a fun event with the Night to Shine."

"Our hope is people with special needs realize they are beautiful and wonderful, and created in a remarkable way," said Scheibe. "We are just celebrating them and letting them know they are loved."

Night to Shine

Every year, the number of attendees has grown. In 2020, organizers estimated about 200 would attend the early February event.