On February 9th, 2018 I was privileged to be a part of something I had wanted to be a part of for some time. I was given the opportunity to be a volunteer for the Tim Tebow Foundation’s, Night to Shine at Sunnybrook Community Church in Sioux City, Iowa. Night to Shine takes place very year in February and is a prom for individuals with special needs. This year, Night to Shine was hosted in 540 churches in 50 states and 16 countries. There were approximately 90,000 honored guests who were supported by 175,000 volunteers worldwide.

As our honored guests from age fourteen and above arrived for the night, they came in under a canopy of balloons and walked down the red carpet being cheered on by greeters, paparazzi, and their buddies. They were then paired with their buddy for the evening and each person was crowned with a crown or tiara as a King or Queen. I have never seen so many happy faces! There was then so much people could go do. There was a DJ and a dance floor, a karaoke room, amazing food, limousine rides, places to get your nails/hair done, stations to get your picture taken, a shoeshine station, and multiple rooms for games or just a quiet place to get away. My personal favorite places to go and watch were in the karaoke room and in the dance area!

On top of all the things to do for the honored guests, there was also a place to honor families and caregivers. They also were served amazing food, had places for hair/makeup/nails, could get a massage, or simply sit back and watch a family friendly movie. The respite area also was filled with lots of smiles! As a parent of a child with special needs, I was so pleased to see this as a part of this amazing event.

I have been around and a part of the special needs community since 1987. I have traveled the world teaching how to set up safe environments for “people to live, learn, work and play” since 2001. The last 12 years I have been honored to be a parent of a child with fragile x. So, I can say that I have been exposed to a lot over the years but Night to Shine may be my favorite thing. Watching the special guests interact with their buddies and volunteers, knowing it was THEIR night, was absolutely amazing. It was not about a focus on behavior, programs, daily living skills…it was about them as a person. Night to Shine will become one of my non-negotiables I will try to attend every year if I can. Next year’s event is February 8th, 2019 and if you want to experience something so worth your time, I would encourage you to volunteer if there is a location in your area. Here is a link to learn more: https://www.timtebowfoundation.org/ministries/night-to-shine

Tim Geels – SVP of Corporate Instruction & Implementation