If you are the parent of a child with special needs you are undoubtedly familiar with both the unguarded joy they bring to a family as well as the struggles they frequently face trying to figure out where they fit in with their peers. High school can be particularly difficult for a child with special needs when physical and/or mental disabilities prevent them from taking part in common teenage rights of passage. Prom night used to be a perfect example; however, thanks to the efforts of the Tim Tebow Foundation, along with thousands of volunteers, teenagers (14 and older) with special needs now have their own “Night to Shine.”
The fourth annual Night to Shine took place on February 9, 2018. That evening, 537 churches in 16 different countries came together to host Night to Shine for approximately 90,000 honored guests through the support of 175,000 volunteers!
Sports fans know Tim Tebow as the college football star turned Heisman Trophy winner who led Denver to an unexpected playoff victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2011 season and is now working his way up the ranks in Major League Baseball. His list of career accomplishments is certainly impressive; however, the outspoken Christian athlete is most proud of the charitable foundation he founded, the Tim Tebow Foundation, that sponsors the Night to Shine.
“It’s my favorite night of the year and we get to change so many lives,” Tebow said in a video promoting the event. “Honestly, it’s not just the night of their life where they get to dance, and they get to have fun. They get to ride in limos, they get to walk down red carpets.” He added: “It’s so much more than life, because maybe for the first time, they realize that they’re worth it. They realize that they’re special. They realize that they’re loved. There’s not much more important than that.”
The idea to hold a special prom night, for special kids, in a single church grew to a prom night for teenagers with special needs around the world in just four short years. The event is more than just a dance though. The promoters and producers of the event go all out for the “kings” and “queens” to make sure they feel as special as they are. For example, “Night to Shine” welcomes guests with tuxedos and shoe shining stations for the “kings” while the “queens” look forward to gorgeous dresses hair and makeup stations. Corsages and boutonnieres are also provided for the guests. Prom-goers and their date or caretaker arrive in limos to cheering crowds and faux paparazzi as they walked down a red carpet. Once inside, they enjoy a night of dancing, karaoke, and gifts to remember the night.
“I’m going to love those kids,” Tebow said. “I’m going to make them feel special, and at the end of the night when they’re crowned king or queen of the prom, hopefully, they leave realizing that the God of this universe loves them so much and has a special unique plan and purpose for their life. We get to show that with how much we love them.” To open up the event to even more people, the Tim Tebow Foundation features a live stream. As always, Tebow showed up as a surprise at a couple of locations across the country this year to celebrate with the party goers before he heads off to spring training for the New York Mets.
If you are the parent of a teenager with special needs and are interested in have your child attend next year’s Night to Shine, check the Tim Tebow Foundation website for locations near you. You can also refer a church to host a local Night to Shine for 2019. More information on how to refer your church can also be found on the foundation’s website.
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If you are the parent of a child with special needs, please join us for one of our FREE seminars to find out more about including special needs planning in your estate plan. If you have questions or concerns regarding special needs planning in the State of Illinois, contact the experienced special needs planning attorneys at Hedeker Law, Ltd. by calling (847) 913-5415 to schedule an appointment.
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