A group of students at Bloomingdale High School is looking for help putting together a special night for some special teenagers. The school’s JROTC program has supported “The Night of a Thousand Stars”, an annual ball for guests 16 and older with disabilities, for the last six years, but recently due to illness, the ball was almost canceled for 2018. The JROTC unit volunteered to sponsor this year’s event and are looking for residents and businesses to donate to make the event a success.

According to Junior Kalei Douglas, a cadet in the school’s JROTC program, the ball is usually organized by its founder, Marcia Minutello, who started the event 10 years ago. Her recent health issues have meant that Minutello was unable to perform her usual fundraising and organizing activities, “so Mrs. Minutello had cancelled the ball this year,” said Douglas. “Upon hearing the news, the JROTC refused to let the dance disappear so the unit collectively decided to take the weight of the ball onto its shoulders with Mrs. Minutello’s guidance.”

The JROTC is now responsible for catering the night for 200 guests from throughout the area in addition to funding other costs of putting the event together.

“The ball gives the attendees an opportunity to express themselves with people of similar attributes without fear of ridicule or judgment,” said Douglas. “This has been a special tradition in our community for 10 years and we don’t want that to end.”

The JROTC unit will also work as security during the event, escorting the guests, serving food and working in the kitchen.
The ball is scheduled to take place Friday, November 30 at St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church in Brandon. Any residents or businesses interested in sponsoring the event or contributing in any way are asked to contact the Bloomingdale JROTC at bloombulls@gmail.com.

Bloomingdale High School is located at 1700 E. Bloomingdale Ave. in Valrico and can be reached at 744-8018.