Cameron Florka makes the most of the dance floor during the  Night to Shine prom Feb. 9 at Warren Woods Baptist Church in Warren.

Cameron Florka makes the most of the dance floor during the Night to Shine prom Feb. 9 at Warren Woods Baptist Church in Warren.

Photo by Sean Work

Local young adults enjoy Night to Shine prom

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published February 19, 2018

WARREN — David Everheart couldn’t wait to dance, especially if the DJ played Katy Perry.

Once his shoes were shined, the 16-year-old made his way to the dance floor inside the Warren Woods Baptist Church gymnasium Feb. 9.

Everheart was among 125 young adults with special needs who registered for the annual Night to Shine prom, sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation. Because snow fell most of the day in metro Detroit, some were concerned the prom would be canceled, but the event went on as scheduled. The event was held in all 50 states and 16 countries around the world.

Night to Shine is a grant-funded program in which young adults with special needs attend a prom free of charge. Tebow is a Heisman Trophy winner and former professional football player.

Warren Woods Baptist Church and Paradox Church co-hosted the event, and Melissa Kiger and Jamie Boyse were the organizers. Kiger’s dad, Larry Allen, is the senior pastor at Warren Woods Baptist Church. The church has hosted Night to Shine in the past.

“I tell people every year it is the best night,” said Kiger, a special education teacher at Fitzgerald High School. “We want to show them God’s love. He sent them for a purpose.”

Each special-needs young adult was paired up with a volunteer buddy for the evening. The prom began when each guest arrived via a red carpet with a paparazzi comprised of volunteers and family members, who welcomed them with cheers and flashbulbs. From there, the guests and their buddies enjoyed dinner, dancing, limousine rides, photos and karaoke. Respite care, massages and manicures also were available for parents and caretakers.

The guys looked dapper in suits and tuxedos, while the ladies sparkled in everything from black to floral prints to dresses of sequins. Each guest received a tiara or crown to wear during the festivities, along with a corsage or boutonniere.

At the red carpet entrance, Dave and Marla Stottlemyer, of Warren, waited behind the velvet rope for their 25-year-old son, Ryan Stottlemyer, to arrive for his third prom.

“He loves it,” Dave Stottlemyer said. “He has a great time.”

“He waits all year long,” Marla Stottlemyer said. “They get to dress up and go to the prom. He takes the limo ride and goes to the dance floor. It’s awesome.”

Diane Held, of Warren, also waited in the paparazzi area for her son, James McDaniel, 23, to make the scene.

“He is just so excited about this,” Held said. “It’s such a fantastic night for the kids. They get out and on their own for the night. He comes home and he’s exhausted. I told him to have fun.”

Warren resident Mary Filion was on the lookout for her daughter and son-in-law, Beth and Bruce Leppek to be greeted by the evening’s paparazzi.

“This prom is just so special for them,” Filion said. “The first time they went, they said, ‘This was the best time I ever had in my life.’ The kids weren’t able to do anything like this in high school. The two girls that organize it, Melissa and Jamie, they are just phenomenal.”

Suzanne Szymanski, 24, a student at Warren Woods Tower High School, got into the spirit of the evening with volunteer buddy Julie Perry.

“I like it. It’s amazing,” Szymanski said, adding that the event made her feel “special.”

The prom marked Perry’s first Night to Shine experience.

“My friend told me about it,” she said. “I love helping people. It’s so much fun, and I made a new friend.”

For more information on Night to Shine, visit