Awe-Inspiring! Unforgettable! Humbling! Life-Changing!
All of these words (and more) were used to describe The Tim Tebow Foundation’s™ Night to Shine that took place at Hopewell Baptist Church on February 8.
Night to Shine is a prom-night experience for those with special needs, allowing the opportunity to dress up, socialize, and dance the night away. For Truett McConnell University (TMU students, like myself, it was an opportunity to not only give of our time, but to be blessed by a room full of amazing attendees.
I had not heard about Night to Shine until arriving at TMU when I was told about volunteer opportunities offered to students. TMU students are able to participate in this unforgettable experience by being “prom dates” and dance partners for each participant. Many students look forward to volunteering for this night, knowing how much fun and touching the experience is every year.
Because it was my first time and I didn’t know what to fully expect, no testimony could have prepped me for what I would experience that night.
The title of the event, Night to Shine, truly fits. Upon arriving, guests were greeted with the biggest, warmest smiles and a proper escort. After meeting their date (with much giddiness if I may add), they were sent to take a standard prom photo and then off to dinner and activities. Each guest was given a crown or tiara because they are all shining kings and queens in God’s eyes.
While walking down the hallway leading to the main ballroom, I noticed there were makeup stations and fun karaoke-styled rooms set up to add to the special night. Brave souls would happily take the stage while classic songs such as “Living on a Prayer” and “Don’t Stop Believing” poured out of the rooms. A supportive audience would clap, cheer, and sing along as their friend shined on stage, revealing their inner rock star.
The ballroom was energetic, exploding with music and dance moves. Inside there was a photo booth and a red carpet in which the kings and queens of the night could be appropriately introduced with a round of applause to follow.
As participants and volunteers danced the night away, I couldn’t stop smiling. I was truly incapable of doing anything but smile. And while looking around the room, I couldn’t help but notice everyone else was experiencing the same thing.
The joy that filled the room was contagious. It was unthinkable that before this night, most of the dates didn’t know each other, yet on the dance floor, it had seemed they had known each other for ages. Every single person throughout the night was laughing, dancing, and making memories – memories that will live on for a lifetime to come.
While talking with guests on what their favorite part of the event was, a common theme was “having fun” and a “sense of belonging.”
“I can relate to people here,” one TMU student told me, “It’s nice to just forget about everything and have fun.”
However, it wasn’t just the shining kings and queens who had a memorable night. In speaking with many TMU student volunteers, some for the first time, they communicated that the event surpassed their expectations and they would still be smiling tomorrow morning.
By the time the night came to a close, everyone’s cheeks hurt from smiling and hearts were full. New friends had been made, and eagerness for next year’s prom had already surfaced. Truly, it was a Night to Shine.
Alexa is a Junior Psychology Major and intern for the Marketing and Communications Department at TMU.
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