NEW ALBANY, Miss. (WCBI) – Hillcrest Baptist Church in New Albany played host to the Tim Tebow Foundation’s 5th annual Night To Shine prom Friday night.
The event is a chance for members of the special needs community to participate in their very own prom night.
Church members say the annual event is not only good for the participants, but it’s also good for the volunteers.
(What’s your favorite part?)
“Dancing,” said participant Tabitha Roberson.
(Alright, and what else are you looking forward to?)
“The Karaoke,” said Roberson.
Members of the congregation said the annual event is the highlight of their year.
“It is such a pleasure and joy to see these participants walk through these doors, get to be kings and queens at a prom, to see the smile, see the laughter, see the enjoyment on their faces. It’s a night that I look forward to every year,” said volunteer Randy White.
Participants are shuttled in and greeted by dozens of people waiting to roll out the red carpet.
They’re then ushered in to have their hair and make up done, their shoes shined, and have their portraits made.
The participants even get their choice of a limo or carriage ride.
“The limo rides and stuff…pretty amazing…There’s just a lot of stuff that I’m pretty sure a lot of people would love,” said participant James Houston Jordan.
The special night couldn’t come a better time.
It’s always planned for the week before Valentine’s day, with a special message of love.
“I want them to know that they are very special. They are loved by God and loved by all. Just because they may be someone with a disability, they are still love, they are still cared for, and they are indeed a special person in God’s eyes,” said White.
Dawn McKinney served on the Night To Shine committee during the first year.
She said she has a special place in her heart for the event.
“For me it’s important because I am the mother of a special needs child. They are special and just like he is saying right now, they’re all king and queens…They spend their life on the outside looking in, and this is a night where they don’t have to do that,” said McKinney.
Church members said they hope to see the event continue to grow in the coming years.
“I would encourage anyone, anyone, doesn’t matter what age you are, to come out and enjoy this with us. It grows every year. We look forward to it every year. Actually, you’re going to walk away
probably with a bigger blessing than the participants are that leave here tonight,” said White.
The Tim Tebow Foundation started Night To Shine with just 44 churches.
This is the 5th year of the event and they’ve grown to 655 churches with locations in all 50 states and 20 different countries.