Valentine’s Day is officially next week, but there will be plenty of love on display a few days earlier thanks to Tim Tebow. Prom kings and queens across the nation, and in other countries, will gather on Friday for the annual worldwide party called Night to Shine.
The Tim Tebow Foundation is behind Night to Shine for the third straight year. The event provides a prom night experience for people with special needs ages 14 and older. Night to Shine has it all– red carpets, limo rides, crowns, dancing, dinner, desserts, and fellowship. Centered around God’s love, the amazing night has touched the lives of many since 2015.
Night to Shine started off modestly that year. Tebow and his foundation wanted to basically throw a prom for those with mental and physical disabilities. They pulled it off. Those attending over the last two years were treated to a night in dresses and tuxedos, hair styling and makeup stations, shoe shine stands, karaoke rooms, and photo booths. Tebow and his foundation wants to redefine Valentine’s Day by encouraging people to focus on things bigger than themselves. Attendance records show it’s resonating.
In 2015 Night to Shine featured 44 prom events with over 7,000 people with special needs on hand at events in 26 states and two foreign countries. Then in 2016 things exploded. Around 32,000 guests attended gatherings in 201 spots. As more and more sponsoring churches from all denominations jump on board to sponsor the events, the numbers continue to skyrocket.
The 2017 installment of Night to Shine is set to take place February 10 at 375 locations in all 50 states and 11 foreign countries. Tebow, the two-time national football champ with Florida and former NFL quarterback can count these results right up their with his greatest victories.
Night to Shine has a clear impact on the prom kings and queens, but it also touches those who volunteer. I volunteered at one of the Night to Shine locations in 2016. It was beautiful and impactful.
Each attendee of Night to Shine is paired with a buddy–a volunteer responsible for chaperoning one of the guest for the evening. I was teamed up with an incredible young man named John.
John was funny, and whip smart. A music guru, John was able to name most of the tunes that played throughout the night within three or four notes. We rode in a limo, walked the red carpet (a Night to Shine fan favorite), and partied for hours. John brought down the house when he sang karaoke to the Police hit ‘Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic’. I was told John really enjoyed his time with me. I’d like to think that was the case. I know I thoroughly enjoyed my time with him. I treasure the memories of that magical evening.
Maddie Hungate was a table mate with me last year. She was also impressed and grateful for the experience. “I volunteered for Night to Shine because one of my passions is loving people who were created differently than myself, and having a night that was solely devoted to making these individuals feel beautiful, handsome, and extraordinary was something that I wanted to be apart of,” said Hungate. “I also really enjoy serving my community in such a tangible way.”
Hungate is admittedly not a huge sports fan. But, she is certainly on Team Tebow after Night to Shine. “I really don’t know much about Tim Tebow other than he’s a football player and he loves the same Lord that I do, so if he is willing to support and fund an event for people with disabilities, then he sounds like a great guy,” Hungate said. “I love that our church got to love on the community and their families in a way that was just so special for everyone involved.”
This year, my home church is hosting a Night to Shine prom. My kids and I are providing desserts. Through Tebow’s event my kids will be learning some valuable lessons too. The effects of this ministry are far reaching to say the least.
Tebow is expected to make appearances at some of the events this year just like he did the first two years. The former football star turned New York Mets prospect is changing lives in a real and positive way. While Tebow fans and Tebow haters alike will continue to keep a close eye on his athletic career, the southpaw’s off the field victory–Night to Shine is undoubtedly a grand slam.