On February 8, 655 churches across the globe hosted a “Night to Shine,” a prom night for people with special needs who are age 14 or older. The prom is sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation. On the foundation’s About page, Tebow writes,
The Christian faith is about loving Jesus and loving people, and that is what we are trying to do with this foundation and all of our outreaches…our goal is to let people know that God loves them and that they are worthy.
The Night to Shine prom in Erie, Pennsylvania, was pretty representative of what the events are like. When guests arrived, they got to walk down a red carpet with people on either side greeting and cheering for them. Each guest spent the three-hour evening with a “buddy” volunteer and received a corsage or boutonniere, as well as a gift bag and a framed photo. The guests ate dinner together, and there was a live DJ and dancing. At the end of the evening, attendees watched a video from Tim Tebow and before they left, each was crowned king or queen of the prom. The lead organizer of the event said,
I think that the crowning is so meaningful because everybody wants to have that feeling of being crowned something… One of the things I say to the buddies is that we’re trying to change the lives of people with disabilities and special needs, and when we leave here tonight, our lives are actually the ones here that are changed.
The Night to Shine event in Jeffersonville, Indiana, was similar. In addition to dinner and dancing, guests got to have their hair and makeup done and their shoes shined. They also had the opportunity to take a limo ride and sing karaoke.
One volunteer at that event said that one of the benefits of Night to Shine is that “It brings the special needs community together and helps everybody understand that if we work together, we can function together.”
The mom of one guest at a another event in Indiana expressed how grateful she was for the support. Referring to her daughter, the mom said, “Just to have something like this and know that she can do whatever she wants and not worry if someone is going to make fun of her is exciting.”
The proms were clearly meaningful to the guests who got to attend. One guest at an event in West Plains, Missouri, said, “It was awesome. You feel like you’re rich.”
— Bethlehem Church (@BethChurch316) February 15, 2019
Special needs students in Plano, Texas, were gathered for a meeting the morning of Night to Shine when they got an extra special surprise: Tim Tebow himself. He and his fiancee showed up at Prestonwood Baptist Church, spoke to the students, and took pictures with them. Tebow told them, “Number one is you guys, that you get a night where you can shine; that it’s a night where the church can shine; it’s a night where all the volunteers can shine; but maybe most importantly, it’s a night where God gets to shine. Is that pretty cool?”
That is exactly what seems to be happening at the Night to Shine events across the world. At the one in Fort Morgan, Colorado, one parent commented,
I don’t think I have ever been to a place that just exudes so much love and happiness. Everyone cared so much about whether everyone else was having a good time. Even the police were speaking with everyone asking their name and if they were having a good time, making them feel special. It was quite the experience.