Hundreds of special guests and volunteers joined others across the globe as they partied the night away on Friday at Marshall Convention Center as Immanuel Baptist Church hosted what will now be the annual Night to Shine Marshall event, hosted by the Tim Tebow Foundation.
“We have more than 500 volunteers here tonight and more than 300 guest participants, which is more than last year,” Night to Shine Marshall Organizer Patti Brady said on Friday. “We are absolutely planning for this to be an annual event.”
Night to Shine is a global event that partners with local churches and nonprofits to host a prom event geared towards students and adults with special needs and disabilities. This year’s Marshall event saw guests from across the East Texas area, including from area schools, adult residential facilities and area organizations that span from Longview to Carthage, Jefferson and Shreveport.
The event, which is free for all attending guests, offers dinner and dessert, dancing with a live DJ, professional photography, karaoke, hair and makeup, shoe shining and a red carpet entrance, followed by a crowning.
“We also have a respite room for parents and caregivers here tonight,” Brady said. “They can go in and eat and relax and we have a massage therapist in there giving free massages.”
Every guest at Night to Shine is also given a crown, because everyone is a king and queen.
“This is a night for the churches to shine and a night for our guests to shine but it’s especially a night for God to shine,” Brady said. “We know it’s important to shine love on everyone and to include everyone and this is a night to celebrate an unforgettable prom night experience — centered on God’s love — for everyone, regardless of their abilities.”
Guest Tony Scogno of Longview said he was having a blast at the event on Friday with his buddy Ashley Caudle.
“This is my second time to come to this,” Scogno said. “I like it. I like all of the people here. Dancing is my favorite. We’ve been dancing and eating and I wore my cowboy boots, so I got my boots shined up here.”
Volunteers Vivian Lewis and Panola College Cosmetology Instructor Bobbie Smith said they were thrilled to be a part of this year’s event.
“There are 13 of us from Panola College, some are current students and some are former students, and we are here to do the hair and makeup for any of the guests who want it,” Smith said. “We came to the event last year to do hair and makeup as well, and it’s just great to see the smiles on the guests’ faces when they get here.”
Lewis too said she was having a wonderful time on Friday just watching the guests have the night of their life.
“This is my first year volunteering and I’m having such a good time,” Lewis said. “It’s just in my DNA to volunteer and to be able to see the guests’ faces light up when they walk in on the red carpet and we’re cheering them on — it’s great.”
Tim Tebow started the Night to Shine event six years ago, and this year more than 700 churches worldwide hosted events on Friday alongside Marshall.
“It is awe inspiring to see how God is using the church globally to stand up and advocate for people with special needs. I truly believe that the world is coming together through Night to Shine to celebrate the love that God has for us. Every town, every village, every state, every country needs a Night to Shine for their special needs community — a chance to be a part of something significant and life-changing... and to be blessed in the process,” Tim Tebow said in a statement.
Brady said Night to Shine Marshall is an event guests will remember throughout the rest of the year.
“It’s an experience like no other. This event is one of the many opportunities throughout the year, we celebrate people with unique abilities and show them how much they are loved by us and most importantly by Christ,” Brady said.