February 11, 2019

This prom experience serves and helps bring awareness to young adults with special needs.

Centenary University hosted its first annual Night to Shine—an event sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation on Feb. 8. The event was led by a group of volunteer students, faculty, and staff, and offered an unforgettable prom experience to young adults with special needs, ages 14 and up. It was held in conjunction with Hackettstown’s Church of the Assumption in the University’s David and Carol Lackland Center and included formal dining (catered by Chartwells and the Applebees in Hackettstown), music and dancing, makeovers, and professional photos.

Alec Donovan (Class of ’20), president of Centenary University’s Antibullying Club and member of the University’s Changebuilders Program, which is dedicated to facilitating community engagement opportunities for college students, brought this initiative to Centenary officials as part of his anti-bullying service project, after being introduced to the foundation via a family member. “When my aunt’s church group brought up the idea of having the event at Centenary, I was excited to help in any way that I could”, says the education and history major. “I’ve been part of the wrestling team for the past three years, and we’re all members of the Changebuilders program. We think this is a great cause and would love to establish a solid relationship between the foundation and Centenary University for years to come.”

Centenary’s New Jersey Campus Compact (NJCC) and AmeriCorps Changebuilders coordinator, Rachel Danitz, used her passion for inspiring youth toward volunteerism to further advance the event, stating, “We’re were so proud to host this special night on campus. It was a chance for our community to come together, create awareness for those with special needs, and make some remarkable members of our community feel special and honored. It will be a night to remember.”

Night to Shine celebrated its fifth anniversary on Feb. 8. Close to 700 churches and 200,000 volunteers were expected to participate and serve approximately 100,000 honored guests.

Founded in 1867 by the Newark Conference of the United Methodist Church, Centenary University’s academic program integrates a solid liberal arts foundation with a strong career orientation. This mix provides an educational experience that prepares students to succeed in the increasingly global and interdependent world. The University’s main campus is located in Hackettstown, N.J., with its equestrian facility in Washington Township. The Centenary University School of Professional Studies offers degree programs at two locations, Parsippany and Edison, as well as online and at corporate sites throughout New Jersey.

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