By Cara Hanson

Two years ago, I had never heard of Tim Tebow’s Night To Shine. Not a huge sports follower, the name Tim Tebow was only vaguely familiar despite his athletic prowess in both professional football and major league baseball.  Night To Shine is run by Tim’s foundation and offers a promlike evening for community members with special needs.  His mission for this event is “to bring Faith, Hope, and Love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need”.  After the opportunity to volunteer was announced, I welcomed the chance to join alongside the well-established program at North Shore Community Baptist Church.

As the event drew closer, NSCBC led us through the logistics of the evening – a massive operation to make everything run smoothly and on time.  I had met previously with my team and leader, but the full training enabled us to see exactly how many teams it takes to run the event.  We were also able to hear from a representative from Joni and Friends, a ministry devoted to “communicating the Gospel and equipping Christ-honoring churches worldwide to evangelize and disciple people affected by disabilities”. 

Once the evening arrived, I donned my finest (volunteers are encouraged to also dress in evening wear).  I remember arriving at the church and seeing the red carpet and twinkling lights.  With a team of cheering fans making them feel loved and special, the guests receive such an amazing welcome.  My first job was pinning boutonnieres on the guests as they entered the transformed ballroom.   Some declined, but most were ecstatic.  Their joy and excitement was palpable.
Each guest is assigned a “buddy” volunteer who spends the evening them attending to their every need.  It is such an important role and the care and love I saw being issued forth in the room was nothing less than Jesus Himself would have shown.  Guests were ushered to their seats where a video from Tim Tebow played.  At this time every guest was crowned in a jubilant moment.  Tim speaks about wanting each attendee to be reminded that they are all kings and queens in the eyes of God.  At this point, my eyes were a little teary seeing two of the guests, a sweet, older married couple, share in this moment- a brightness in a life maybe not so bright in the every day.  A glimpse of Jesus’ light we hope to share and emulate.

As the night continued on, delicious catered food was served, dancing ensued in the main room and guests participated in the many other prepared activities.  Ladies were treated to beauty services, gentlemen had their shoes shined, limo rides were taken around town, and the karaoke room was hopping.  My last task of the evening was to hand out the gift bags to each guest.  They receive a selection of Night To Shine memorabilia, including a framed photo of their prom portrait.  Hearing each of them gush about their experience as they were getting ready to leave was another unforgettable moment for me.  There was no doubt in my mind that my life had been touched in a meaningful way that evening.

For the past two years, various parishioners from CTR have enjoyed volunteering at the local Night to Shine event at North Shore Community Baptists Church. Night to Shine will take place on Feb. 7th from 6-9 pm this year. For more information or to get involved,
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