‘Night to Shine’ was truly special event

PROM NIGHT IS A special event for millions of young people every year. Thanks to Christian Life Church in Plymouth and the Tim Tebow Foundation, prom night became an extra special – and memorable – event for a special and deserving group of people earlier this month.

The local church was one of more than 500 churches across the nation and around the world who hosted a Night to Shine event for people with special needs Feb. 9.

While it was the first time for the Plymouth church, it was the third year for the annual event sponsored by the Tebow Foundation, established by the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner, former NFL quarterback and current minor league baseball player in the New York Mets farm system.

Tebow is just one of many current and former professional athletes who have chosen to give back some of what they’ve earned through their talents and abilities to those around them who are less fortunate – efforts that too often get lost or drowned out in the scandals and gossip that can dominate the sports world.

The annual event is a ‘prom night’ for young people with special needs that provides an opportunity to reinforce for them that they are special in more than just needs.

With support from the foundation and the help of dedicated and caring volunteers, the special guests enjoy a truly sparkling and memorable evening.

Pampered with special treatment including a limousine ride to the event at the church, the guests – each one crowned a king or queen of the night – were paired with volunteer buddies. They made sure the evening was truly outstanding - from music, food and balloon drops to party bling and takeaway gifts.

Locally, the Night to Shine drew participants from Sheboygan, Fond du Lac, Manitowoc, Calumet and Washington counties – 87 in total. Family members traveled from as far away as Florida and South Carolina to join in the celebration.

More than 250 volunteers gave of their time and talents to make the night special for all the kings and queens.

But the numbers don’t convey the true meaning and impact of the event.

For too many years and too many generations, those among us with special needs and different needs were shunned and treated as outcasts, shamed and hidden because they were not “normal” — whatever that word means.

We have, fortunately, come so far from those days and now realize that what makes some people different also makes them special, that they are just like us and deserve love, honor and respect just like anyone else.

Everywhere, in education and employment and elsewhere, people with special needs are encouraged to reach their full potential and their abilities are put to good use as productive and contributing members of society.

The Night to Shine event is just one more example of celebrating what’s best in all of us.

Congratulations to all of those who contributed their time, their energy, their efforts, their money and items, their talent and most of all their love and care to make a special night for special people.

And congratulations to all the kings and queens who were the brightest part of the Night to Shine. Let’s hope even more get to shine next year, in the years to come and throughout their lives.


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