A “Night to Shine” for special needs

Whitley Bras, Staff Editor

Photo Courtesy of the North Greenville Women’s soccer team

Photo Courtesy of the North Greenville Women’s soccer team

Several North Greenville University (NGU) athletics teams were involved in the Night to Shine event which was hosted by the Tim Tebow foundation at Fairview Baptist Church on Friday Feb. 8.

Night to Shine was hosted by the Tim Tebow foundation and involved putting on a prom for high school students and adults with special needs.  Many NGU athletic teams participated in the event including football, women’s soccer, men’s lacrosse and the cheerleading team.

Katie Sepko who is the cheerleading coach talked about the event and said, “It was a fantastic event. The cheerleaders served as ‘buddies’ meaning that they were paired with a person with special needs and they stayed with them the whole night.” There were different activities that people could be involved in including a dance floor, a karaoke room, a makeup room, limo rides, shoe shining, and dinner was provided. There were also resting rooms for the parents to relax while their children were having fun.

Night to Shine is a national event put on by the Tim Tebow Foundation in cities all over the country. The foundation states that “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, 655 churches from around the world came together to host Night to Shine for approximately 100,000 honored guests through the support of 200,000 volunteers.” The mission statement of the Tim Tebow foundation is “to bring faith, hope and love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need.”

The men’s lacrosse team was one of the athletic programs involved. Their head coach Corey Struss stated, “our men’s lacrosse program has been involved with this event in the past in different capacities.  Many of our guys are considered ‘buddies’ for the evening, and that includes: walking the individuals down the red carpet, posing for photos, dancing with their buddy for the evening, eating dinner with their guest, and even riding in a limousine around the complex with their guest.”

The event is an incredible experience for the volunteers and all those who are involved. Struss says when talking about the athletes on the men’s lacrosse team, “we are there simply to provide an unforgettable experience for these individuals who otherwise may not get the opportunity to have a night like this.” He continues by saying, “the thing that I have enjoyed about this event is that the effects are reciprocal.  We are able to provide one of the best nights ever for the attendees, but in return, we learn a lot about ourselves as people that can impact others.  It is a special night for everyone, and it gives us an opportunity to make a difference.”

The “Night to Shine” event is an incredible way for communities to gather as well as to support those that are impacted by special needs. For those that are interested in getting involved, they can look out for the date of the event next year and then look at the Tim Tebow foundation website to find out where they may be able to serve. The event takes place in almost every major city in the country on the same night, so the opportunity is there wherever people are located.

Sources: Interview Katie Sepko, Interview Corey Struss, Tim Tebow Foundation, NGU Athletics