by Wendy Melton
When Tim Tebow established the Night to Shine prom for individuals with Special Needs, it was an immediate success. The Tim Tebow Foundation sponsored the first prom in 2015. With 44 churches in 26 different countries participating. This year, on February 8th, a Night to Shine prom was hosted by the First Baptist Church in Valdosta, Georgia. The First Baptist Church was now one of 650 churches across 22 countries to host this special dance. Out of the 200,000 volunteers across the globe, 500 of them were from here.
A Night to Remember
Close to 300 Kings and Queens attended Valdosta’s Night to Shine event. The Lowndes County Jr. ROTC lined the red carpet to welcome the guests into the dance. The church had both floors of the building set up for the prom. Both upstairs and downstairs had a wide selection of food and beverages for everyone to share. Bowls that contained extra “bling” were placed along the counters so that the guests could add to their collection. On the ground floor, a make-up area was created so the guests could freshen up throughout the night. Corsages and boutonnieres were also provided.
Making the Night Possible
The Night to Shine prom wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the 500 plus volunteers who showed up to make sure that everyone in attendance had a great time. FBC members, students from several local schools, and students and staff from Wiregrass and its Skills USA Chapter were all ready and willing to help in any way they could. Local photographers also offered their time, free of charge to capture the special moments that were had by each of the guests.
A Community Comes Together
Local law enforcement officers directed traffic, allowing participants and volunteers to get from the parking lots to the prom. Two horse drawn carriages were also there to give the prom’s guests rides through the downtown area. These were the two most visible aspects of community involvement. What many people may not realize is that the Night to Shine prom is actually months in the making.
Kelly Wetherington is the Campus Life Coordinator at Wiregrass Technical College. For several months prior to the dance, they were gathering formal attire and accessories for their Tiaras and Ties event that was held on January 25 of this year. Kelly said, “ We’re here to offer support. Many came to us for their clothes, hair, and make-up. Our students offer their time both as buddies and as volunteers.” The Wiregrass students also took the individual pictures for the guests who attended the prom.
Becoming a Volunteer or Buddy
Erica Stone, one of the coordinators for the event this year said, “Anyone who wants to be a buddy or volunteer can sign up at the First Baptist Church website on November 1st. If you want to support the Night to Shine Prom in other ways, you can make donations on the Tim Tebow Foundation’s website or you can purchase items, such as t-shirts and hats from the Foundation store at https://store.timtebowfoundation.org/collections/night-to-shine.
The Night to Shine prom continues to grow each year. With guests coming from as far as Live Oak, Florida, next year’s event is destined to be a huge success. The time for spring cleaning is close at hand. When you are going through your closets, any formal attire or accessories you no longer use can be set aside for the Tiara’s and Ties program at Wiregrass. Any donation you make will go toward making one special person’s night a smashing success!