Tim Tebow Foundation Sponsors Fourth Annual “Night to Shine”

Robyn Clarke, Staff Writer

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On February 9th, 2018, children with special needs will be celebrated around the world through the Tim Tebow Foundation’s annual Night to Shine prom. The event, in its fourth year, is an “unforgettable prom night experience centered on God’s love,” and aims to ensure each guest “knows that they are celebrated, valued and loved,” according to the foundation’s website.

“Honestly, four years ago when my executive director came to me and said, ‘Hey, we heard about this prom that this church has for people with special needs. What would you think about doing one?’ I just fell in love with it,” says Tim Tebow, founder and chairman of TTF in a video posted to the foundation’s Facebook page. Where could they hold the event? “Everywhere!” said Tebow.*

So on February 13th, 2015, forty-five churches and eight thousand volunteers from across the globe came together to make the idea a reality. Upon arrival, guests were given royal treatment. A limo brought them to the front entrance, where they walked down a paparazzi-lined red carpet and were cheered for. There were stations for shoe-shining, hair, and makeup, and a place where they could karaoke and belt out their favorite song. And then, of course, there was a dance floor! The climax of the night came when each guest was crowned king or queen of the prom, because, in Tebow’s words, “that’s how God looks at [them] every single day of [their lives].”

The event exceeded all expectations, and since then, it’s only grown. Last year, Night to Shine proms were thrown by 375 churches in all fifty states and eleven countries. 150,000 people came together to celebrate the 75,000 kings and queens who went. One was held right here in Newnan at SouthCrest Church, which I attended.

Truthfully, I was a little apprehensive about going. For one thing, dancing isn’t my strong suit. And when I’ve attended events tailored for the special needs community in the past, I often felt as though my disability was brought into the spotlight instead of hidden. I wondered if Night to Shine would play out in the same fashion. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

From the moment I arrived, I was showered in a warmth and kindness that made me feel welcomed and loved, not out of place and different. The church was wrapped in an aura of joy; smiles were everywhere. I marveled at the way so many had come together to ensure the night was a success. At a time when the news was filled with negativity, here I was, surrounded by people who were going out of their way to serve others. The realization was refreshing and heartwarming, but what struck me the most was how evident the Lord was. His light shone in a beautiful way, and I could feel Him in the room with us. It was incredible.

Something else I loved about Night to Shine was the way my walker wasn’t an obstacle. My friends figured out a way for me to dance without feeling uncomfortable, and I had a blast. For once, I didn’t worry about how I looked or what others thought of me. I just had fun, and in the process I created a memory I’ll always carry with me.

Volunteering at the event meant the world to junior Mary Lauren Golden. “…It gave me an opportunity to do something really special for others,” she says. “…Everyone there was…focused on being in the moment and creating something the guests could remember.”

Senior Tate Carroll believes Night to Shine is even more special for the volunteers than it is for the guests. “It allows me to go out and share God’s light and show the kids that they are important in our eyes and Jesus’s eyes,” he says, and adds that he was blown away by how the prom unified such a vast amount of people. “Night to Shine always makes me grateful that I live in a community who can make something like this possible. It reminds me that the difference between me and another person is irrelevant because we are all God’s children and loved by Him,” he explains.

In senior Abby Morelock’s mind, everyone should volunteer for Night to Shine at least once. “[Those involved get to] see how special and amazing all the student[s] with special needs are. …Even though they have special needs, they are no different from anyone else. We are all made in God’s image and He made every single one of us for a purpose,” she says.

Night to Shine is more than a prom. It’s a chance for everyone, volunteers and guests alike, to have fun and be reminded that they are special and loved. Already, the event has touched thousands of lives, and next Friday, that trend will continue as proms are thrown in all fifty states and sixteen different countries. For the estimated 90,000 guests who will attend, February 9th, 2018 is not only their night to shine- it’s also a night they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.

 

*All quotes and statistics taken from the Tim Tebow Foundation’s website and social media platforms.

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Tim Tebow Foundation Sponsors Fourth Annual “Night to Shine”