It was a Night to Shine, but nothing shined as bright as the smiles on the faces of the 30 or so special guests who got to experience their very own prom for the very first time.
The Night to Shine special needs prom held at Anchors Church last Friday is definitely a night that will not be forgotten by the evening’s special guests or the 100 or so who came together to make this night magical.It was one of those events that creates memories that will last a lifetime for everyone who got to be a part of it.
In 2015, the Tim Tebow Foundation launched an idea to honor people with special needs with a celebration of God’s love for them. Now, every year around the world hundreds of thousands come together on one night for a Night to Shine, an unforgettable prom experience for people with special needs. Since its inception, it has grown to include Night to Shine events in more than 700 churches around the world. This year’s worldwide event honored more than 115,000 special guests.
In a statement, Tim Tebow said, “We want to have masses of humanity celebrating people with special needs and God’s love for all of us because that doesn’t happen a lot. It’s incredible to see people from all corners of the world coming together to celebrate the love that God has for all of us.”
The celebration at Anchors began as the young ladies arrived in their sparkling gowns and the young men in their tuxedoes. As they made their way down the red carpet, they were greeted by the cheers of family, friends, and a host of volunteers.
It didn’t take long for them to hit the dance floor with “buddies” (students from across Blount County who joined in on the fun) as they all danced the night away. They also were treated to a catered dinner, photos, party favors, and so much more.
Perhaps the highlight of the evening came at the end as each special guest was crowned as king and queen of the prom. On a night about shining, everyone glowed.
“This was a night to celebrate diversity and the beauty of all God’s creations,” said Anchors pastor Bill McDonald. “This was their night to shine.”
McDonald was a part of a Night to Shine at a church he pastored in Ecuador. He shared the experience with his planning team earlier this year, but they weren’t sure there was enough time to pull off such a huge event. Once church member Brenda Painter heard about the event, she knew she had to find a way to make it happen. And make it happen she did as she was surrounded by an army of volunteers who pulled off one magical night for some of Blount County’s most special kings and queens.
“Anchors is so excited to host this special event,” she said. “And we are so thankful for all who came together to make this an awesome night. I believe God was smiling down on our night. It was such an amazing night. This was definitely their night to shine.”