This past Valentine's Day weekend, more than 32,000 people with special needs attended the Night to Shine event, hosted by the Tim Tebow Foundation. This year, the former NFL star's charity sponsored prom events in 48 states and seven countries, including the U.S., Uganda, Haiti, New Zealand, Ecuador, the Philippines and Kenya.
As in years past, all participants received the royal treatment, complete with limousine rides, a red carpet, shoe shines, a dance floor, and much more. The theme of the event was simple: everyone is a king or queen in the eyes of God. To drive this point home, each participant was honored with a crown or tiara at the end of the night.
"I am so thankful for the 200 host churches and more than 70,000 volunteers that showed God's love by celebrating people with special needs and are turning Night to Shine into a worldwide movement," said Tim Tebow, Founder of the Tim Tebow Foundation in a press release made available to The Gospel Herald. "The Night to Shine movement is more than just a prom; it is a night where people with special needs shine and they are told that they matter, that they are important and that God has a plan for their life!"
Of course, Tebow himself participated in a number of proms: the athlete surprised volunteers and guests at six different Night to Shine locations, including events in New York City, NY, Philadelphia, PA, Cookeville, TN, Charlotte, NC, and Woodstock, GA.
In addition to praying with and encouraging volunteers, Tebow walked the red carpet with the honored guests, shined shoes, danced with a number of participants, and shared the message of God's love.
To make the night possible, 200 churches, assisted by over 70,000 volunteers, did much of the organizing and decorating along with the Tebow foundation.
The former NFL star shared a number of photos of the event on his personal Instagram page, including one where he is shown praying with several Night to Shine volunteers.
"So thankful for the 70,000 amazing volunteers of #NighttoShine," he captioned the photo. "Loved getting to pray for the night with this group of incredible volunteers at St. Malachy!"
Due to its massive success, the Tim Tebow Foundation is hoping to make the Night to Shine an annual event. Currently, the charity is accepting donations for next year's prom, which can be made at www.timtebowfoundation.org.
"One of the most exciting parts of this year's Night to Shine was seeing 200 host churches representing 23 different denominations working together to love and celebrate these amazing people with special needs," said Erik Dellenback, Executive Director of the Tim Tebow Foundation. "We love working with churches because it isn't about just one night; it is about celebrating and loving these amazing people 52 weeks a year, and we are so encouraged by how many of our host churches are starting or enhancing their own year-round special needs ministry!"