Christian living, Inspirational

A Night to Shine for Special Needs

By Del Duduit

Everyone should have a special day just for them.

For some, it might be a birthday or an anniversary. Mothers and fathers have a block on the calendar where they should be pampered by their children and grandchildren.

From the Tim Tebow Foundation website

Presidents have a day of observance, and our veterans need to be honored every day – not just on a special day in November.

If you are like me, you don’t like attention, but you do appreciate the recognition that comes along when your day in the sun arrives.

But what about those people who have special needs? Often times they might be left out of a discussion, or their wants are put on the back burner by society.

According to an article from the Columbus Dispatch, adults who are developmentally disabled are often abused and neglected.

I have never faced the challenge of caring for people who have special needs. I see them a lot when I visit a football game or attend a parade. I never know quite how to act, but I try to feel compassion and love.  Many times, I entertain emotions of confusion and wonder why God allowed this.

Jacob and me

But then I think of my friend and preacher Jacob Berry, who has a rare type of Muscular Dystrophy, yet he travels the country as an evangelist. I don’t view him as a person who has special needs – but rather a very special person — even if he cheers for Oklahoma.

This is the way Tim Tebow sees those who have special needs.

God has put it on his heart to minister and provide them with “A Night to Shine.”

Christ Temple Church in Huntington, WV will host the foundation’s event on February 8. 2019 by honoring people with unique situations.

“It’s a prom for people who have special needs,” said Anneliese Caserta, business administrator at the church. “We make them feel like a prince or princess that night.”

Ladies will have their hair done and makeup applied, and boys will have their own Tuxedos and shoes shined by volunteers, and countless other needs will be met. They will also have a nice dinner.

I just feel good. My needs take a back seat.

Anneliese Caserta

And there will even be limos and a red carpet lined with paparazzi to take pictures of the guests as they arrive in style.

“This is their night to shine,” she added.

From the Tim Tebow Foundation website

This will be the fourth year the church has hosted the event. Anneliese said she expects about 250 attendees along with parents and about 400 volunteers. In all, there will be about 1,000 people at the church that special night.

“We love doing this because it benefits the families who will be there,” she added. “There will be tears of joy and happiness, and some have even said it’s one of the best days of their lives.”

It’s a time when the focus can shift from cleaning out the garage or gutters, to helping others without expectations of compensation.

“I just feel good,” she added. “My needs take a back seat.”

According to the Tim Tebow Foundation website, the event is “an unforgettable prom night experience, centered around God’s love, for people with special needs ages 14 and older.”

From the Tim Tebow Foundation website

Last year, 537 churches from around the world joined together to host “Night to Shine” for about 90,000 honored guests with the support of 175,000 volunteers.

Anneliese said applications for volunteers are being accepted online here.

“We are also working on obtaining some sponsors to help too,” she said. “We need to get some people and businesses to help offset the cost of this event.”

Just because you fill out an application does not mean you will be approved. There are hundreds of applications, and a background check must also be performed.

She said she looks forward to this event each year and wants to make the occasion one to remember. The entire focus will be on making those who attend feel God’s love.

Then said he also to him that bade him, ‘When thou makest a dinner or supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbors; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee, for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. (Luke 14: 12-14 KJV)

This means you and I are called by the Lord to serve others without expectation of recognition or payment or gifts. Do it because it’s the right thing to do.

From the Tim Tebow Foundation website

I plan to be there on Feb. 8 to help out and be exposed to a world I have never known.

And for those who expect to see Tim there, don’t hold your breath. Annelise doesn’t even know if the New York Mets outfielder will make the trip to Huntington since events will be held all over the nation. In case you did not know, Tim played football at the University of Florida and won the Heisman Trophy in 2007 and won two BCS National Championships. He played in the NFL for the Denver Broncos, New York Jets, New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles, and he is now in the Mets minor league system. But he is best known for his bold faith and stance for Christ.

“He shows up at some of the events, but we wouldn’t know until that day,” she said.

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How do you make people feel special? Is this an event you would consider working at to make someone smile? Is it worth it to you?

Let me know your thoughts on this post and if I can expect to see you in Huntington at Christ Temple Church.

To register a guest for the event, click here.

For more information on Tim Tebow’s foundation, click here.

Del Duduit is an award-winning writer and author who lives in Lucasville, Ohio with his wife, Angie. They attend Rubyville Community Church. Follow his blog at and his Twitter @delduduit. He is represented by Cyle Young of Hartline Literary Agency.

His first book — BUCKEYE BELIEVER – 40 Days of Devotions for The Ohio State Faithful –can be purchased on Amazon here.

4 thoughts on “A Night to Shine for Special Needs”

  1. Yes, Del, there are churches in our area who do participate in this wondrous event begun by Tim Tebow, and they are absolutely the best! May God bless all those who organize, volunteer and attend these.
    Happy Thanksgiving!


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