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Brownsville non-profit to host prom for people with special needs

1 week 4 days 8 hours ago Wednesday, January 25 2023 Jan 25, 2023 January 25, 2023 9:28 AM January 25, 2023 in News - Local

From the moment people arrive, till the end of the night, A Night to Shine aims to give people with special needs an unforgettable prom experience.

Attendees get the total royal treatment, and at this prom, everyone is crowned king or queen.

Started by the Tim Tebow Foundation, A Night to Shine is held nationwide on the same day.

This year, the local non-profit Down by the Border will be hosting the prom once again in Brownsville.

"It's just a big party, nothing matters that night, everybody is just there enjoying each other's company, and it's very important to promote that," said Monika Mata, Down by the Border board member.

"We have hair stylists at hand, they walk the red carpet, and they get paired up with a prom buddy, which is a volunteer for the evening."

Mata says that not only is this an opportunity to celebrate people of all abilities, but it's also a chance for volunteers to interact and learn from the special needs community.

"It's just a night of happiness and pure blessings, and it changes your mood and changes your perspective of life," said Omar Juarez, Down by the Border board member.

Juarez has been a volunteer at the prom for the past six years, serving as the ambassador of the event.

He says it's truly a night to celebrate everyone's differences. 

"A lot of them don't really get to have that prom experience that a lot of people get in high school, so for you to see them having fun, dancing to whatever music that is on. It's beautiful really," said Juarez.

To attend, prom goers and volunteers must be at least 14 years old.

For 20-year-old Nathan Rios, this is something he looks forward to every year.

"My favorite part is the dancing, I enjoy having fun, and I enjoy taking pictures," said Nathan.

But it's not just a special night for the prom goers.

Sergio Zarate, the founder of Down by the Border, says it's an experience for everyone that attends, especially the parents.

"The smiles, the laughter the thank you's at the end of the night from the parents because they never thought their child would experience a moment like that," said Zarate. 

"You will see something in your son or daughter that you've probably never seen before."

This year's prom will be at the Amigoland Event Center on February 10th.

So far, more than 200 guests have signed up to attend, and the organization says they're looking to welcome as many as possible.

"We're ready to rock and roll again, we're ready to dance and laugh and smile and have a great time," said Zarate. 

The non-profit is looking for more volunteers and potential sponsors.

The deadline for guests to sign up is February, 5.

The deadline for volunteers to sign up is February, 1.

To sign up and for more information, you can visit Down by the Border's Facebook page, here.

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