Night to Shine Celebrate People Living with Disabilities
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Night to Shine Celebrate People Living with Disabilities

Centennial, Colorado — Sometimes you just have to dressed up and go to a prom. That’s what my wife and I did recently when we volunteered to help with Night to Shine sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation.

Night to Shine a annual event to celebrate people living with disabilities, and my wife I volunteered to escort someone with a disability to the dance. As the participants were pared with their buddies and the hallway emptied out, Kelly and I kept praying for the right person to come along. Finally the “matchmaker” told us to go join the festivities and she would come and find us if anything came up.

As we made our way to the party, we  encountered several stations along the way. Limousines were ready to take people for a spin around the block. Folks were there to touch up make up, shine shoes (I took advantage of that) and make sure people were ready for the evening.

Next came the red carpet. Paparazzi lined the carpet and cheered as each participant was announced and walked into the dance hall. The evening was officially started.

Night to Shine,held at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Centennial Colorado, hosted 138 participants and 243 volunteers for an evening of dinner and dancing. “Night to Shine is an opportunity to lift people up in their faith in Jesus while celebrating through a dance and prom experience’,” says Susan Hart, the local coordinator for Night to Shine. “The evening provides the platform to celebrate people of all abilities, people who may appear different and may have a disability. It also provides connections to people in ways that otherwise would never happen in real life.

“For my Bethesda Colleagues and Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, NTS is a beautiful opportunity to merge the Church and the World in a non threatening setting of a Prom and Dinner event,” says Heart. “We already see value in all people and conduct ourselves accordingly. NTS provides us with the opportunity to lift up a group of people who are so marginalized in society and provide them with an event of great joy.”

I discovered on Facebook that my brother and his family had volunteered at the event held in Linclon, Nebraska. “We want to install a value in our boys that all people have value, are created special and for a purpose by God, that He loves them and so should we regardless of any (dis)ability, or physical or other trait we see,” says Torin Berge.  “This experience allowed us to have those conversations and show that we believe it, not just say it.”

This past Friday, hundreds of thousands of people came together on one single night, all from different cities, different countries, different cultures, but with the same love, in a worldwide movement celebrating people with special needs.

According to a press release, Night to Shine is sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation. 175,000 volunteers from 537 churches and 33 different denominations across the United States and 16 countries on 6 continents, honored more than 90,000 guests with special needs simultaneously. Now in its fourth year, this unforgettable prom night experience, centered on God’s love, for people with special needs, ages 14 and older, has created more than a half a million nights to remember, impacting lives across the globe.

As I made my way around the room during the evening, I stopped and sat with mother and daughter, Jackie and Sindra. I asked them what Night to Shine means to them. “It means equality,” Jackie said. “For one night, there is total acceptance of my daughter. The playing field is even.”

“I’m just happy to be here and meet you,” Sindra said.

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