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Night To Shine...A Moms Point of View

Being a mother to special needs kids is both rewarding beyond measure and terrifying at the same time. There are so many "What ifs?", "Will he ever?", and "Will she be able to?"

Knowing that your child may miss out on some of life's milestones can be heartbreaking.

Let me introduce to you my son, Chad, who is fixing to turn 19. He is full of life, personality, and tenacious! He, also, will probably never drive a car and never completely support himself independently.

He was born with a translocation of chromosomes 10 and 22. Basically, what that means is that those two chromosomes swapped some genetic material and lost some genetic material. We have joked around as a family that the lost genetic material is in his one toe that hangs down farther than the rest LOL!

  • Is there a name for his condition? No, but we call it Chad Syndrome. 
  • Was it genetic? No, as his parents, we were tested. His genes just decided to do their own thing, much like Chad does!

I can go on and on about my Chad, but I want to get to our Night to Shine Prom experience!

You do know who Tim Tebow is, right?! What you may not know is what an amazing humanitarian that he is! He started the Tim Tebow Foundation where their mission is to celebrate people with special needs. What an inspiring organization!

The foundation sponsors a world wide prom for those adults with special needs. The idea is not to only celebrate these wonderful souls but to give them a light to feel good, socialize, have fun, and to SHINE!

Over 90,000 people attended this year in over 540 churches with over 175,000 volunteers! All on the same night around the world!

That in itself is a staggering feat! But I want to share with you exactly how magical this event is to the attendees and their parents.

In our area, the prom is hosted at Temple Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, MS. This loving church, along with countless others, pour their hearts and souls into this event every year. It is the second year that Temple has hosted, and they did an unbelievable job both years. The church is beautiful and you can feel God's love as soon as you step in the door!

So, let's go to the Night to Shine Prom!

Upon arrival, you are greeted at the front door by the warmest smiles and hand shakes. Making our way in, we are shown to our registration table. Our registration was all completed online, so there was very little wait (a major plus for Chad!) He is given his name tag, on a shining cord, and presented to his buddy for the night.

I have to tell you, the volunteers that serve as buddies are simply the purest of hearts. Each prom attendee is assigned a buddy for the whole night.

The buddies make sure they accompany their attendee to the various activities, fix them a plate to eat, make sure they are having loads of fun, and dancing with them! In Chad's case, the buddy needs to, also, be prepared for running from activity to activity or across the dance floor at top speed (well...Chad's speed!) And JR was up for the challenge! He was so kind and attentive to Chad, I couldn't have asked for a better buddy.

Chad meets Seymour the Mascot from the University of Southern Mississippi, while waiting in line with JR, his buddy. Go Eagles!

Now, it's time to enter the prom, on the red carpet, of course! The carpet is lined with fans and paparazzi, screaming their name and cheering them on as the announcer introduces them. The walk is exhilarating!

On to the dance floor, where the first stop is to receive their corsages or bouteneers. Second, prom pictures! Then the attendee can dance, get a bite to eat, or just sit and enjoy the music and atmosphere!

For some, the main floor can be overwhelming, as was the case for Chad. His buddy saw that he was uncomfortable with the loud music and suggested they go and explore. A hostess led the way to the Sensory Room. How amazing is this! There are separate rooms with alternative activities to the main attraction of dancing!

The Sensory Room was full of bean bags, giant teddy bears, quiet board games, a Disney movie playing, and (Chad's favorite) electronic tablets to play games on! There was even food here, as well, in case it was too loud at the main buffet!

The other rooms included a karaoke room  where guests could sing along with their favorite songs, and the applause was tremendous after each set!

JR sang along with Chad

If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands! 

The last room we entered was the Game Room. Now, you will see what I mean when I thought we had shrunk upon entering! These were massive games! Even the bubble machine worked in overdrive!

Chad showing us how much bigger the cards were than his head!

Took a while to shuffle these

So, JR helped

In addition to all that (as if that's not enough!), outside are limo rides. A full stretch all decked out limosine! Awesomeness!

There is, also, a parents lounge. This is a place where parents can relax and socialize while their kids are having a ball. There was a full meal that was beyond delicious, a dessert bar, and a flavored coffee bar. I felt like royalty!

Up the gorgeous staircase to the Parents Lounge

The Parents Lounge overlooked the main dance and eating area

Close to the end of the prom, all attendees are crowned Kings and Queens! And before they leave, they are presented with a goodie bag, complete with a Night to Shine cup, the picture that was made in a silver frame, handwritten Bible verses, and other wonderful items.

The outpouring of love, devotion, and passion for others will take your breath away. As a Mother, it will bring you to tears.

Every detail is researched and thorough to benefit the attendee. To show them how much they are loved, to allow them to let loose and have fun in a safe environment, and to provide them an evening that allows them to shine. And shine they did, each and every one of them!

If you need more information on Night to Shine, please visit their website at The Tim Tebow Foundation

And consider volunteering, giving, or nominating a church near you for next year's Night to Shine. You will be blessed beyond measure for doing so!

Feel free to share this wonderful and amazing event with others and help everyone have an opportunity to SHINE!

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