Night to Shine
Story by Guy Pasvogel
MASON, OH -- On February 9th, I had the opportunity to attend the Tenth annual “Night to Shine” at Christ Church in Mason. Founded by the Tim Tebow Foundation, the “Night to Shine” is an annual gala for developmentally disabled individuals 14 and older to attend a formal Prom complete with corsages, boutonnieres and red carpet treatment.
As a special bonus, a Pre-party event was attended by none other than Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL Quarterback Tim Tebow himself, accompanied by his wife Demi. Tim thanked all who put forth the effort to make this night a night to remember.
Having worked the last four years for a company that houses developmentally disabled adults, I have become well aware of the challenges those individuals face each day that we sometimes take for granted. The whole experience has taught me to be more patient, understanding and compassionate to those with special needs.
What I witnessed last night was truly inspiring! I saw 460 participants having the time of their life, strutting their stuff on the dance floor with their counterparts on a night that they were beyond special.
Such an event took the hard work of over 600 volunteers who managed every detail. I was the chaperone for two roommates at one of our company’s five houses. When we arrived, we met up with the four other houses (two or three to a house) and proceeded to the entrance where we walked through a “red carpet” complete with balloons, cheering and music. Taylor Swift could not have gotten such a welcome!
From there, we were escorted into a group room where the gals and guys received a corsage or boutonniere. Then, every participant was assigned to a “buddy” guide to be with them the entire event. My two guys had two volunteer ladies (sisters) who were as nice as they could be.
We then proceeded to the dining hall where we were treated to a boxed dinner filled with chicken nuggets, chips, water and a delicious brownie. Then it was time to party, and party they did!
It took a little nudging on my part to convince one of my guys to go ask a girl to dance, but he conquered his fear and did quite well. It was amazing to me how many of the attendants knew each other from other events sponsored by the Warren County Department of Developmental Disabilities.
My one guy ran into his teacher he had ten years ago at Franklin High School. It felt like one big fraternity and sorority and all felt a sense of belonging.
At the end of the evening, all attendees had their pictures taken and received a crown befitting a Prom night.
Thank you to all the volunteers who made this night happen and to Christ Church for hosting the event. A special thank you to Tim Tebow for founding the event and for appearing to kick it off.
On this night, there were no “special” needs, only the need to be accepted. In my eyes, they are all special.
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