BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - As volunteers were making the final touches, completing the transformation of a church gym into the site of a sophisticated soiree, the man behind ‘Night to Shine’ walked through the doors.
“He came in, looked around the room, hugged a couple of adults and walked up to the kids,” said Kala Waldron, Event Coordinator, Night to Shine Birmingham at Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church.
“He,” is Tim Tebow.
“He got down face-to-face, told them he was happy to see them, called them by name, really spent time with them.”
Tebow created Night to Shine six years ago as a celebration of people with special needs. The honored guests, those with special needs ages 14 and older, are pampered and praised at a prom created just for them. This year, 721 churches across 50 states and 34 countries hosted their own Night to Shine. Each year, Tebow surprises a handful of sites, spending time with the guests and praying with their families.
Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church was his first stop of the night.
“It was definitely an honor to be one of the few churches that he attended the day of and yeah, everybody was surprised, I don’t know a better way to describe it, everyone was just shocked when he walked in the gym,” said Waldron.
By the time Tebow and his wife, Demi-Leigh, saw the gym, chandeliers were hanging from the rafters, tables were covered with black and silver linens, arrangements of roses, sunflowers and birds of paradise served as center pieces and the red carpet was rolled out.
Over 60 community partners and 337 volunteers helped to create the “ultimate prom experience,” said Waldron.
Tebow thanked the volunteers and prayed with the group but Waldron said he spent most of his time with the honored guests.
“It’s not a production to him, he doesn’t do this for show,” said Waldron. “You can tell he truly cares.”
As Tebow left, on to visit the next Night to Shine, he called the kids he met by name.
“He remembered them, and it meant something and that’s why he was there.”
After Tebow left, the celebration continued.
GLOW and Salon 431 provided makeup and hair for the honored guests. There were stations for airbrush tattoos, shoe shining, corsages and boutonnieres. While the honored guests were treated like royalty, their families got some pampering too.
Paul Mitchell The School Birmingham provided services to the parents and caregivers and after, they were treated to a catered meal.
Downstairs, there was dancing, karaoke and a photo booth complete with props.
At the end of the night, each of the 146 honored guests were crowned prom queens and kings.
“It’s to symbolize how they are seen by their Creator,” said Waldron.
In a highlight video posted on the Tim Tebow Foundation website, Tebow sums up the reason for Night to Shine, “It is because we love you, it is because you matter, it is because you are special and there is a great purpose for your life!”