Special needs community: make plans to attend ‘Night to Shine’ prom


FALKVILLE – On Feb. 9, Fairview: The Grace Place in Falkville will host its second annual Night to Shine Special Needs Prom, sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation.  Pre-registration for the event is now open.

The Tim Tebow Foundation’s website describes this ministry: “Night to Shine is an unforgettable prom night experience, centered on God’s love, for people with special needs ages 14 and older.  On one night, February 9, 2018, more than 500 churches from around the world will come together to host Night to Shine for approximately 90,000 honored guests through the support of 175,000 volunteers!”

The Grace Place’s Kelli McAnally told The Tribune via email about the event and why her church takes part in the program:

“We agree with the Tim Tebow Foundation that the special needs community is too often overlooked, excluded and underestimated, especially when it comes to extracurriculars or special events.  God loves all His people, no matter their abilities. We are honored to focus our time and attention towards an event that celebrates this under-celebrated group of people.  Our goal is to create an atmosphere that lets them forget that they may be a little different from what society dictates.  We hope to show them that we SEE them, that they MATTER, that they are of WORTH. Most importantly, we want to show them that GOD SEES them and that He LOVES them, and not just on this special night… His love for them is constant in all their days. Their lives have purpose and He has a plan for them. He has made them INTENTIONALLY and PERFECTLY in His image!”

McAnally continued, “Night to Shine began in 2015. Our first year to host was 2017.  We had to apply and be approved as a host church.  Currently we are the closest host church to Cullman County (followed by Guntersville, Dora and Trussville).

“My daughter Lauren McAnally and her boyfriend, Trent Price, along with several of his CHS Baseball teammates and friends volunteered as dates in 2017.  (Owen Lovell, Ben Smith, Chayton Grimmett, Tucker Franey, Garrett Cornelius, Noah Fondren and others) My other daughter Emma volunteered as one of our photographers for the night.

“Lauren and Trent’s dates were Joseph Kanaday and Alivia Bencze, both of whom I believe are students in the Cullman school systems.  I believe Joseph goes to Fairview.  Theirs was a double date as Joseph and Alivia are longtime sweethearts themselves!

“This year we have a salon from Cullman that has offered to do hair and makeup for our Cullman attendees. Chick-fil-A Cullman partnered with us last year by giving a discount on catering and even sending along the cow mascot to hang out on the dance floor.  They will be joining us again this year as our caterer!  Lauren Estes-Velez volunteered her time as Elsa from Frozen for the 2017 event.  We’re hoping she’ll make another appearance!  Oh, and C & C Graphics is designing our official T-shirt this year! We have police and medical professionals on site during the entire event.”

Said McAnally, “Night to Shine will be hosted simultaneously in over 500 churches across the globe on Friday, February 9th, 2018. Tim Tebow makes scheduled guest appearances at a few host churches during the course of the event! The list of churches he will visit are released the morning of the event. We’ll be keeping our fingers crossed for that!

“We had 67 guests with special needs attend last year’s event. We’re hoping, by reaching out to Cullman County, that we can increase that number in February 2018.”

What about volunteering?

“Right now, our volunteer list is pretty much full, but as our guest list increases we will be recruiting more dates and volunteers as needed. Our volunteer spaces are limited to allow plenty of space for the attendees’ families to enjoy the night as well. They are invited to observe and take part in every aspect of the evening,” said McAnally.

“The way the prom works is that we have volunteers that are specifically assigned as dates for each attendee. We gather tons of information from the guests and spend a lot of time matching them to a date so that they have the best night possible. Their assigned dates will know what their needs and interests are so that they can keep the conversation going and also address any issues that may arise. They dress up, walk the red carpet with them and accompany them throughout the evening. All dates and volunteers are background checked and put through a training class provided by the Tim Tebow Foundation via online seminars. These training seminars are mandatory and cover topics such as safety and respect. TTF sends us a planning guide stating their expectations for the event and we do the rest! We have a fantastic planning team whose hearts are ALL IN!”

Concluded McAnally, “The Tim Tebow Foundation issues grants to the host churches on top of what we can get donated and fundraised for the event. This allows us to go all out AND to keep the event completely free! As we did last year, we’ll have limo rides (two limos this year!) to the red carpet lined with cheering paparazzi and a photo in front of the Night to Shine official backdrop. In our gym we’ll have a live DJ, lights, a huge dance floor and great food.  About halfway through the evening each and every attendee is crowned Prom Kings and Prom Queens!  It rivals any prom around!”

See www.cullmantribune.com/articles/2017/12/23/save-date-tim-tebow-night-shine-special-needs-prom-feb-9-pre-registration-open.

For more information, or to register, email Kelli McAnally at kellimcanally@gmail.com or call 256-784-5642.

Copyright 2018 Humble Roots, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Photo courtesy of Kelli McAnally.