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Community members with special needs get 'Night to Shine'

More than 120 guests and nearly 300 volunteers turn out for event

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On a Friday night, a crowd of people with special needs were the stars — red carpet and all — at the Hilton Denver Inverness hotel just outside of Centennial.

The Night to Shine event on Feb. 9, sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation, took place at more than 450 locations around the world to give people with special needs a prom-like experience. The All-Stars Club nonprofit and West Bowles Community Church volunteers hosted the night, where parents, guests and volunteers came together for a night of pomp and paparazzi-like experiences.

It was a familiar scene for Katherine Moore, 26, who has attended in recent years too. She came with her boyfriend, Stevie Lawson, 28 — they've been together for 12 years and went to Columbine High School.

“They were king and queen of prom in 2010,” said Pam Moore, Katherine's mother.

She and Lawson's mother, Alana Lawson, both from the Littleton area, know several parents with children with special needs in their community.

“They absolutely love coming here,” Lawson said.

Stevie Lawson said the music is his favorite part of the event, and he does a lot of dancing with Moore.

Weston Block, 21, was a first-timer at the event, where more than 120 people with special needs — referred to as “champions” — and about 300 volunteers, known as “buddies,” came together. Champions wore crowns and tiaras and walked down a red carpet against a backdrop of cheers and photography flashes before having dinner, doing activities like karaoke and, of course, having a good time on the dance floor. People ages 14 and up could attend.

Christine Caveney, a 27-year-old volunteer from Centennial, came with Block, for whom she's a caretaker. Many of Block's friends from from Heritage High School, where he graduated, attended the event, Caveney said.

“He's loving it,” Caveney said.

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