By Kim Constantinesco
When it comes to putting love on a pedestal, there’s no stopping Tim Tebow.
For the third year in a row, the Tim Tebow Foundation hosted Night to Shine, a worldwide prom event for people with special needs.
In 2015, 44 proms were held simultaneously in churches in 26 states for 7,000 people with special needs. Last year, the event attracted 32,000 attendees and 70,000 volunteers in 200 churches in 48 states. This year, the event grew even more. Over 375 locations hosted the dance in all 50 states and 11 countries.
Attendees are celebrated and offered the night of their lives. Each person walked the red carpet and received a tiara or a crown before hitting the dance floor. There were also hair, makeup, and shoe shin stations in case anyone felt like taking a load off and touching up. And, of course, there were photo booths and plenty to eat.
As the music blared across the country, Tebow hoped in a private plane and made several surprise appearances to take pictures with those decked out in tuxedos and gowns.
Last year, we talked with Special Olympics snowboarder Shannon Sullivan to hear about her experience attending the dance. It made such an impact on her and others with special needs that we decided to touch base with her again this year.
The 30-year-old from Anchorage, Alaska wore a beautiful peach dress decorated in rhinestones; attire much different than her winter jacket and goggles.
“I put on the dress and shoes, and I brushed my hair, but that’s basically as far as I go,” Sullivan explained. “I don’t put any makeup on. I don’t need it.”
She had just returned from a family vacation in Florida and was coming down with a cold, but that didn’t keep her from kicking her heels up all night long at Changepoint Church.
“This dance is 1,000 times better than my high school dance,” Sullivan said. “High school dances were scary because I didn’t know many people. This event gives you hope and confidence, and it shows other people that it’s okay to go and talk to people who are different. You don’t have to be afraid, or think of us as being different.”
As for next year’s Night to Shine, Sullivan is already looking forward to it.
“I can’t wait to go back, meet new people, and dance some more. It’s one of the best night’s of my year,” Sullivan said.
In the meantime, she’ll trade her heels for snowboard boots, and direct her focus toward a podium finish at the state games for the Special Olympics.
“I’ll dance there, too, if I win!”