Night to Shine is a night to sparkle for Oak Harbor twins

Feb 13, 2024 | Featured, Around Ottawa County | 0 comments

From left, volunteer Krista Culbertson, Jessica Riddle, volunteer Tammy Flores and Tatum Riddle have fun at Night to Shine on Feb. 10. Jessica and Tatum, who are sisters, planned for the night for weeks. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

BY SHERI TRUSTY

On Feb. 9, 23-year-old Jessica Riddle of Oak Harbor woke up at 4:30 a.m. and reminded her guardian it was “date night.” Jessica was excited to attend Night to Shine, a prom night experience for individuals with special needs held at Terra State Community College in Fremont. Night to Shine is sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation and was hosted locally by New Hope Vineyard Church.

Jessica didn’t care she had to wait over 12 hours for Night to Shine to start. She was ready to start partying with her twin sister, Tatum Riddle.

Jon “Big Nut” Peters joined the fun on the dance floor during Night to Shine. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

“They are so excited. They’ve been planning this for weeks,” said their guardian, Connie Roe. “Tatum had to have her dress on her bed yesterday. It had to be ready to go. She was excited about sparkling.”

Night to Shine events were held around the globe on Feb. 9. Over 450 people attended the free event at Terra, which included dinner, dancing and a crown for every attendee. Jon “Big Nut” Peters joined the fun on the dance floor as the group danced to the music of the Together Band.

Night to Shine is a prom night experience for individuals with special needs. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

The event was organized by Trudy Nellessen, and this year’s event was dedicated to the late Nancy Cullen. Cullen, who organized the event in Fremont for five years, died on Nov. 16. Neilson, who was friends with Cullen, is continuing her legacy.

That legacy is impacting hundreds of people who, for one night, were reminded that they are valued and well-loved by their community. Their families, too, were pampered for the evening. Family members were served a free dinner on the balcony above the party, where they could take a break from caretaking and still see all the fun on the dance floor.

A couple sways on the dance floor at Night to Shine. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

“This is an incredible event,” Roe said. “This is the third year we’ve attended. They just love coming. The church does a wonderful job, and being on the balcony – it’s just wonderful to watch them.”

Erin Lucas and her daughter, Mary Lucas, traveled from their Port Clinton home to attend their first ever Night to Shine. Mary was too ill to attend in the past, so Erin was glad Mary was well enough to join the party. Mary danced virtually nonstop.

“She always loves to dance,” Erin said. “This is the first time we’ve done anything like this in a very long time.”

A young woman wears her crown as she dances with a friend at Night to Shine. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

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