The undeniable love that was in the room was unlike any other. No one disagreed that Mariah LaRue was one of many shining stars Feb. 8.
Her sparkling, puffy yellow dress sat perfectly on her chair, as she rolled through the room at the prom-like Night To Shine.
As guests applauded her entrance and she exited the red carpet, LaRue was greeted by her many friends and supporters who complimented her continuously.
With her closest friends, she typed “monkey” or “stinky monkey” on her Dynavox and they all laughed at the inside joke.
LaRue was one of about 170 area guests honored at the event, sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation, which allows every guest with special needs to be crowned kings and queens of the prom.
“It’s because God has a great plan for your life,” Tebow said in a video shown to the guests. “Every one of you is crowned king and queen of this night because that’s how the God of this universe sees us.”
Capital West Christian Church has held the event for four years. On the same night across the country, more than 100,000 guests attend their special prom held at supporting churches.
After LaRue received her crown and a bracelet that matched her dress, she couldn’t wait to get her photograph taken. She asked her volunteer-buddy, Martha Fuhrman, to make sure she looked okay before striking a pose for the camera — flashing a model smile that many of those who know her said they also enjoy.
“Mariah is just a joy, her personality she’s always smiling,” local event director Todd Tellman said.
He added that buddies who are paired with guests and other volunteers make the night special for the caregivers, who are typically with them. During the prom, caregivers enjoy each other and can see the event from a second location.
LaRue smiled and joked with six others from Moniteau County SB 40. Other friends she knew from Friday Night Rec, a weekly activity event she loves, were happy to see her. She has been with SB 40 for more than seven years and is known to be social and active.
Her friend, Mary Sanbothe, was happy to share that she likes going to Night to Shine with her friends. Her buddy, Brittany Hilderbrand, has been joining her at the event for the past two years.
At the end of the night, LaRue was happy she attended the prom. When asked if she had fun, she typed “Yes” on her Dynavox and flashed a big smile.