LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Imagine the best prom ever, one in which everyone is treated to a red carpet, the flashing cameras of adoring fans, and a sparkling crown befitting of royalty.
That’s what four churches affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Convention plan to give people with special needs when they host Night to Shine proms sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation.
Adairville Baptist Church, Beechland Baptist Church in Louisville, Heartland Church in Paducah and Owensboro’s Life Community Church will join more than 500 churches worldwide in hosting prom experiences on Feb. 9 for people 14 and older with special needs.
“Night to Shine itself is a worldwide movement to change Valentine’s Day weekend from simply a celebration of love, to a celebration of God’s love for people with special needs,” said Michelle Miller, co-leader of Night to Shine at Life Community. “It’s a celebration of the value of life and is truly an unforgettable prom night experience.”
Guests of Night to Shine proms are ushered into the free events like celebrities a long red carpet and warm welcomes from a friendly crowd and paparazzi. Once inside, guests are treated to hair and makeup stations, shoe shining areas, limousine rides, corsages and boutonnieres. There are hor d’oeuvres and prom favors. Dancing and karaoke.
There is even a Respite Room for parents and caretakers.
“Best of all, each honored guest is crowned a king or queen of the prom,” said Erik Dellenback, executive director of the Tim Tebow Foundation.
Dellenback said Night to Shine has grown rapidly since it began in 2015 with 44 host churches. The first year, about 15,000 volunteers worked together to honor more than 7,000 kings and queens of the prom. This past February, 375 host churches and 150,000 volunteers came together to celebrate 75,000 guests with special needs.
Though the statistics are incredible, this is not about the numbers,” said Dellenback. “Our goal is to share God’s love with people with special needs while giving Him all the glory.”
Prom organizer Kerry Booker said sharing God’s love is the goal at Life Community Church, too.
“Through Night to Shine, we hope to show honored guests they are loved and accepted by those in their community, but more importantly they were put here on earth for a purpose by the one true God who loves them more than they can imagine,” Booker said.
The Tim Tebow Foundation provides each host church with an official prom planning manual, a kit with decorations and gifts for the guests, personalized guidance and support from a Tim Tebow Foundation staff member. The foundation has more than $3.5 million available to host churches in financial need.