By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
ALEXANDRIA – Tim Tebow helped give hundreds of special needs individuals in Louisiana Baptist churches the red carpet treatment Friday, Feb. 10.
Dressed in their formal attire, these special guests enjoyed a variety of activities to make them feel like kings and queens in God’s eyes at the third annual Night to Shine prom.
Five Louisiana Baptist churches were among the 375 churches in 50 states and 11 countries that hosted the event, sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation. The former Heisman Trophy and NFL quarterback started the event three years ago for people who have special needs.
From the beginning, the evening was magical for the guests, who were transported by limousine, trolley or classic car to a red carpet. Once there, they were greeted by an enthusiastic group of volunteers armed with cameras and cheers from the crowd.
Guests received the royal treatment, including hair and makeup stations, shoe shining areas, corsages and boutonnieres, a catered dinner, karaoke, prom favors and a dance floor.
All of this led up to the moment when each guest was crowned king or queen of the prom.
“This night is about you,” Tebow told the guests in a pre-recorded message before the big moment. “It is a night for you to shine.
“It is my honor right now to name every single one of you the queen or king of the prom,” he continued. “More importantly than that, that’s how God looks at you every single day of your life. That’s how important you are. That’s how special you are. And that is how much you are loved.”
Logan Singletary was among 115 guests attending the Night to Shine at Calvary Baptist Church in Alexandria. Singletary was nearly speechless as his buddy crowned him king of the prom.
“This made me feel like a king for the night,” he said. “I also loved getting to ride in the limo and come in on the red carpet like a big celebrity. It’s a night that I will never forget.”
His mom, Melissa, enjoyed a separate time of fellowship with parents of the guests.
“I enjoyed mingling with the other parents who all were blown away by this night that meant so much to our children and us parents,” she said. “I’m so thankful Calvary was able to put this on for our special children.”
The excitement was evident for Jeramy Rhame, who showed up with his parents 45 minutes before the start of Night to Shine. His mom, Mandy, said Jeramy had been preparing for the event since late January.
“You can just feel all of the love here,” Mandy Rhame said. “Just the outpouring of support and people coming together to make this happen is amazing.”
David Brooks, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, said the evening was a celebration and encouragement for individuals with special needs, their parents and the 375 volunteers.
“It was a ministry opportunity for Calvary to come alongside some remarkable people and reinforce that God loves them very much and so does our church,” Brooks said. “In addition to a high energy environment, families and care givers learned about the many opportunities Calvary offers weekly and year-round to assist in the relational, emotional, physical, and spiritual development of all groups of people.
“The crowning of participants as Kings and Queens was a moment everyone in attendance will never forget,” he continued. “The Calvary church family was honored to be selected to partner with the Tim Tebow Foundation for this high impact event for all who shared in the experience. I am so proud of our leadership team, volunteers, and church for a full buy in for a Night to Shine.”
Being hands and feet of Jesus
For the more than 700 volunteers at Cypress Baptist Church in Benton, Night to Shine was the most powerful display of the church being the hands and feet of Christ that Pastor John Fream has seen, proclaiming “our church will never be the same.”
Sean Walker, executive pastor at the Bayou Church in Lafayette, said the evening allowed his congregation to give a gift to the community. More than 300 volunteers served around 200 guests at their Night to Shine prom.
“We were honored to host this unforgettable prom night experience for people with special needs,” Walker said. “We’ve been blessed with space and large facilities that make these events possible, and we want to use them to serve our community. We believe life is better together, and Night to Shine was a chance to do life together.”