Night to Shine is an international program sponsored by The Tim Tebow Foundation that presents a formal night for disabled individuals ages fourteen and older. Experiences such as prom night can be overwhelming for people with sensory sensitivities, given the loud music and party atmosphere. During this night, however, the special guests are treated like celebrities and encouraged to shine like the stars they are.

On Friday, February 9, First Baptist Woodstock and Canton First United Methodist Church each host the annual Night to Shine. Last year the Woodstock event had a thousand volunteers, around 280 guests, and four hundred caregivers.

Photo Credit: James and Carol Eubanks; Photo Courtesy of Valeria Lobo/First Baptist Church Woodstock

A Night to Shine 2023 at First Baptist Church Woodstock (Photo Credit: James and Carol Eubanks)

Special guests dress to the nines and arrive by limousine. Each special guest has a buddy throughout the night. Buddies help the special guests out of the limo and stick by their side. They walk down the red carpet while volunteers cheer them. They dance and can sing karaoke to their hearts’ content. Afterward a dinner honors the caregivers.

Valeria Lobo, director of First Baptist Woodstock’s Special Needs Ministry, Thrive, recalls, “My favorite part is the red carpet. Watching everyone light up as their name is called and they are cheered down the red carpet is special.” She also loves the friendships formed among special guests, volunteers, and caregivers. Valeria says that caregivers have expressed how much events like this one mean for them and the special guests they care for as well.

Photo Credit: James and Carol Eubanks; Photo Courtesy of Valeria Lobo/First Baptist Church Woodstock

A Night to Shine 2023 at First Baptist Church Woodstock (Photo Credit: James and Carol Eubanks)

Denise Williams of Canton says, “I can’t pinpoint my favorite part of the night. We love every single part of it, getting dressed up and seeing the joy on my daughter’s —and each and every other participant’s—faces.” Denise is the mother of special guest Victoria. Victoria has been going to Night to Shine with both her parents for the past five years. Denise sees the night as a wonderful experience for special-needs community members as well as their families. “The joy is overwhelming, tears of joy every year, and such a blessing,” she shares.

 

 

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