Photo: Tim Tebow and guests at the Night To Shine
By Daniel Hubbard, Staff Writer
Students and young adults with special needs will still get their night to shine, although it will look differently this year.
The Tim Tebow Foundation’s annual NIght To Shine will still love, honor, and serve them. But this year it will be virtually. The event is normally held at hundreds of churches throughout the world in February.
“Even though events will not be held physically, what remains the same is the incredible opportunity we still have to love, honor, and serve people with special needs,” Tebow said in a recent email to foundation supporters.
The former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL quarterback said the event will have “quite a few surprises” for attendees, but did not go into details. He asked that people refer their churches to the Tim Tebow Foundation to participate in the virtual event.
A Night To Shine gives children with special needs a chance to experience the prom. Volunteers help transform churches to dance halls with entertainment. They also help children look their best with new formal wear, makeovers, and haircuts.
Local Nights To Shine
More than a dozen New Jersey and New York City churches participated in Night To Shine in recent years. Last February, Tim Tebow surprised attendees at Liquid Church in Parsippany. More than 800 guests attended Night To Shine and 1,200 people volunteered at Liquid.
“We are honored to partner with [Liquid] and celebrate humanity and God’s love for people,” Tebow said. “Thank you for loving people so well.”
Follwing last year’s in-person event at The Chapel in Lincoln Park, NJ, Ingrid Flannery, the church’s director of special needs, said, “Our heart beats for this community that God so clearly loves and that we are committed to including. We believe that all people are created in God’s image with great purpose, and that, as a church, we are better together.”
At Cornerstone Christian Church, Jennifer Fuhr, a member of the church’s Special Needs Ministry, said the annual Night To Shine experience was “heaven on earth” in 2020.
“People with disabilities are vital to the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 21:21) because God’s greatness shows up in big ways in our weaknesses,” she said. “Many of us, or most of us, don’t want our weaknesses to show. But those who live with a disability can’t hide their weaknesses and differences, but they can still rejoice, dance, smile, live, love, and serve others and the Lord. Isn’t that how we should all should live?”
More than 700 churches participated in the global event in February, before the Covid-19 pandemic was declared in the United States.
“It is awe inspiring to see how God is using the Church globally to stand up and advocate for people with special needs. I truly believe that the world is coming together through Night To Shine to celebrate the love that God has for us,” Tebow said. “Every town, every village, every state, every country needs a Night To Shine for their special needs community – a chance to be a part of something significant and life-changing. And to be blessed in the process.”