By JENNIFER DEMPSEY

Progress Editor

February 7 is quickly approaching and volunteers with Night to Shine are working to bring all the details together.

Recently, training was held for all the volunteers who will be involved in the special evening.

Two trainings have already been held and the last session is happening on Feb. 18.

A big part of what makes the night run so smoothly is the number of volunteers and the willingness of each volunteer. This year almost 400 people will volunteer to be involved.

Every year there is a count down to the sign-up date for volunteers and honored guests. This year, all the volunteer spots were filled in just seven hours.

“Everyone has a significant role that makes this event run smoothly. Every spot is awesome, super intricate and valuable,” says Kelly Tong, a member of the Night to Shine steering committee.

Each honored guest is paired with a buddy for the evening. That person is with them the entire night of the event.

When the honored guests first get to the event they check in at the registration table. The buddies are then notified when their honored guests arrive and they are paired up.

Next, the duo can decide how they want to walk down the red carpet. Some choose to walk together, while other honored guests would rather strut their stuff solo down the red carpet.

The pair then enter the big hall and are seated for dinner.

The buddies have special lanyards they wear the entire evening with information about their honored guest.

It includes their name and emergency contact, any dietary concerns or certain restrictions, medication needs and table number. It also lists some special interests of the honored guests that the buddies can use for conversation topics.

In our last article, we met Linsey, our honored guest from Paulding County that is attending the event for the first time this year.

Now we get the chance to meet her buddy for the evening.

Kacey Willitzer is a Paulding graduate and lives in Paulding. This is her second year of involvement with Night to Shine.

Willitzer had heard about Night to Shine from her friend Tara Miller who is also very involved in the event.

Last year she worked in the karaoke room and photo booth.

She had a great time last year and decided she wanted to be a buddy this year.

She and Linsey connected for the first time at a vendor event that benefited Night to Shine. Linsey was nervous about the evening and Willitzer took the time to talk to her about what was going to happen that evening and the pair bonded.

Willitzer decided to sign up as a buddy and Linsey was able to request her as a buddy.

The two have been able to stay in touch since the first meeting to plan for the big evening.

“I’m really looking forward to being a buddy and seeing her reaction first hand,” says Willitzer. “Seeing her walk down the red carpet will be a really neat experience.”

At the recent training, volunteers were able to do a walk-through of the facility to see where each station would be held.

In addition to karaoke and a photo booth, guests are able to take limo rides. There will also be two quiet rooms with crafts, coloring books, art projects and other low noise activities. Another room will have volunteers giving massages. New this year will be a magic show.

In training, the volunteers learn about the logistics of the event, proper attire, how to properly and how to appropriately interact with their honored guest.

Willitzer has bought her dress for the special evening and pink tennis shoes, so she can keep up with Linsey and her dancing skills.