The evening was funded in part by the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life and the Tebow Foundation.
For six years, the Tebow Foundation has been working hard to celebrate special needs students the world over. “Night to Shine” offers an authentic prom experience to differently-abled high schoolers, complete with a fancy car ride, dinner, dancing, and socializing in a comfortable party setting.
The Tebow Foundation launched the first “Night to Shine” in 2014 and it has grown ever since, with an estimated 100,000 children in attendance in 2019. It is expected to draw more than 115,000 partygoers in 2020. The proms will kick off at over 720 locations — mostly local churches who volunteered to host the night — in all 50 states and in 34 countries. The world-wide string of events are supported by the efforts of some 215,000 volunteers.
Of the annual event, Tim Tebow said in a press release:
“Night to Shine is a night that brings people together. Because God gave His best for us in His Son, we will do whatever it takes to make these Honored Guests feel worthy, special, and dearly loved by a God Who has an amazing plan for each of their lives.”
A “Night to Shine” goes to Rome, with the Vatican’s support
Although most of the parties are scheduled for the Friday before Valentine’s day, February 7, Tim Tebow and his wife, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, were in Rome on Tuesday night to bring “Night to Shine” and the prom to Italy’s special needs students for the first time ever. NCR notes that although the prom is a uniquely American high school experience, the Italians were thrilled to join the party.
Rome’s “Night to Shine” was hosted by the Nostra Signora di Guadalupe parish on the grounds of the European University of Rome, and it was funded in part by the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life and the Tebow Foundation, which sponsors hundreds of churches in an effort to bring “Night to Shine” to as many kids as possible.
Tim Tebow met Pope Francis Wednesday at the Vatican, and talked with the pope about Night to Shine, the project that brought to Tebow to Rome. https://t.co/9I0jBstBJj— Catholic News Agency (@cnalive) February 6, 2020
When guests arrived, they were given the VIP treatment, with a walk down the red carpet for photos. The partiers then had a chance to visit one of the many professional stations that include, hair styling, makeup application, and even shoe-shining. At the end of the night every last boy and girl was crowned King or Queen of the prom.
#NightToShine lets those with special needs know that "they matter, that they have significance–and more than just to us, but to the God of this universe, because we believe that everybody has value, everybody has meaning" @TimTebowhttps://t.co/TcWIeIocMc via @HannahBrockhaus— EWTN Vatican (@EWTNVatican) February 6, 2020
While most of the parents in attendance were thrilled that the event celebrated the kids who are commonly overlooked at prom, one mother noted that it is an important night for them socially. She told NCR:
“I can do many things for my daughter, we go to the movie theater and so on, but it is just me and her. This is a different thing, a party with many people.”
In an interview with EWTN, Tebow said that he has taken an interest in special needs children since he was a teenager. The multi-sport athlete said that he discerned a “calling” to “fight for people who couldn’t fight for themselves.”
“I believe God has called us to a lot of things but the two greatest are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and all our mind, and all our strength, and to love our neighbor as [we love] ourselves; and so I want to spend the rest of my life trying to do those two things,” he told EWTN News.