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Creating the ultimate prom experience for those with special needs | Pay it Forward

Night To Shine is a worldwide organization that gives people with special needs a night in the spotlight

ELDRIDGE, Iowa — Prom night is a night most people will always remember. From buying the dress or tux to getting all spiffed up for the night, it's a special time. Night To Shine is an organization that keeps the magic alive every year and around the world for people with special needs. 

Quad Cities churches have hosted this event for the past several years. The event is completely free to those who attend through numerous sponsors and donations. 

Abbey McKenna has been attending the event for the past five years.

Abbey works at McDonald's and has donated a good chunk of her paycheck to the organization. Her aunt, Chris McKenna, nominated her for the Pay It Forward award for all she does for the special event. 

“She doesn’t have to pay it forward, uhm you know it is free, but she loves the organization so much,” said Chris. “I’m busy usually at that time of the year so I can’t come and I thought about that $300 for Abbey. It was the perfect marriage."

“Even though everything there is free and everything else… I want them to be able to experience some of the stuff that I have experienced like being treated with respect and niceness," said Abbey. That's why she donates to the organization. She wants her peers to feel supported like she does because not everyone is as fortunate as she feels. 

Attendings don't have to worry about spending a single thing to have the ultimate prom experience. There are formal wear giveaways to find a tux or dress and local salons help with hair or makeup on the day of. The night is all about making guests feel like a king or queen! “You get the red carpet treatment. You also get to ride in a limo. Uhm they get karaoke. I mean the food is really good, too," said Abbey. 

Everyone at the event is crowned king or queen of the night, but Abbey says her favorite part is the sense of community and respect. “We’re all together and that we all, uhm, feel appreciated and loved," said Abbey. 

This year's Night To Shine will be held on Feb. 10 at the Bend XPO in East Moline. You can learn more about the local organization on their Facebook page. 

Do you know someone that goes above and beyond for his or her community? News 8 and Ascentra Credit Union would like to help you Pay it Forward to them. Click here to nominate someone you know.

See previous Pay It Forward award winners:

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