The Tim Tebow Foundation hosted the third annual Night to Shine event last Friday, which consists of multiple proms for special-needs teenagers held on the same night across the country. Students from Oklahoma Christian University’s social service club, Iota Kappa Phi, reached out to help with the event, along with the Oklahoma City, OK community.
According to the event’s website, Night to Shine is an “unforgettable prom night experience, centered on God’s love for people with special needs ages 14 and older.”
“During his speech, [Tebow] was explaining to all the participants why they are each crowned king and queens of the prom night,” Social Service Director of Iota Bethany Neece said. “He said, ‘This is how God sees you every single day of your life. We want you to know that you are loved, you are special, you are created by love, for love and with love. God has an amazing plan for your life. We love you, we support you and we are behind you.’ You could really tell how passionate he was about making all of the participants know these facts.”
Over a thousand people came out to the Oklahoma City prom night held at the Putnam City Baptist Church. Volunteers were paired with a special needs participant to create a bond throughout the evening.
“Iota did this as a service project,” Neece said. “We had the opportunity to be buddies—more or less just going around wherever the participants wanted to and making sure they were having fun and were safe. A few others helped hand out food and picked up trash.”
Sophomore Carly Davis said her favorite part of the evening was befriending her “buddy” for the night and seeing her have a wonderful evening.
“She kept telling everyone we were best friends for life,” Davis said. “It was really awesome and made me so happy to please her by doing something so simple and spending just three hours with her.”
In its third year, the event continues to raise awareness across the world for those with special needs. The dance has grown in size every year welcoming anyone from the community.
“This event keeps growing every year,” Davis said. “I volunteered as a buddy two years ago at the same place and there were fewer people, but it has always been packed and crowded with people.”
Many local ‘famous’ people attended the dance to meet the kids and take photos, but it was no doubt that Tim Tebow was the star of the show, according to junior Ashley Holland.
“My most memorable part of the night was helping a young girl meet Tim Tebow,” Holland said. “I was on the dance floor at the end of the night, hoping to see him, when a lovely young woman with Down Syndrome was standing beside me, obviously overwhelmed with the large crowd. I took her hand and helped her to the front.”
“She was able to take a picture with him, and her mom, straggling behind him, looked so happy and expressed her thanks to me. It was really then that I realized what a blessing this night is to those men and women, and how Tebow really is amazing for seeking out and doing such an incredible thing for those who would never be able to attend an event like this otherwise.”
According to Holland, Tebow puts on the event through his foundation each year to show God’s unfailing love and that he really works to understand those with special needs.
“It’s really for men and women of all ages, with all sorts of needs that don’t typically get to attend these types of events because it is not catered to everyone,” Holland said. “This is so important to Tim Tebow because as a Christian, he knows his responsibility to love everyone, and to show love to everyone.”