By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
The Tim Tebow Foundation has selected Our Lady of the River Parish, LeClaire, to host a prom night experience on Feb. 10 for people with special needs from all denominations. A location for the “Night to Shine” prom is still under wraps, but the date has been set: Feb. 10, 2017. Prom-goers will be persons ages 14 and older residing in Iowa or Illinois.
“Night to Shine celebrates the uniqueness of each individual guest by providing an unforgettable night where they are welcomed, valued and loved,” Tebow, a sports superstar, says on the Tim Tebow Foundation website (www.timtebowfoundation.org).
Altogether, more than 350 Night to Shine proms will be held simultaneously in all 50 states and 10 countries around the world on Feb. 10. Just four churches in Iowa were selected to host one of the proms. Risen Christ Lutheran Church in Davenport is the closest one to the LeClaire parish. “It is our hope that each guest will have the option of choosing which venue they wish to attend,” said Jennifer Hildebrand of the LeClaire parish.
She first heard about Night to Shine in April at a National Parish Nurse Conference. After returning home, she submitted an application. She was thrilled to learn this fall that her parish had been selected. With the honor comes a partial financial grant to help create an event intended to dazzle its guests.
Prom-goers will take a short limousine ride to the venue, walk on a red carpet and receive a warm welcome from the crowd and paparazzi. The gals will get their hair and makeup done and the guys will have their shoes shined. They’ll receive corsages, boutonnieres and prom favors. H’ordeuvres will be served and the guests will enjoy karaoke and dancing. For the finale, the guys will be crowned kings and the gals will be crowned queens of the prom.
“We are honored to be able to work with so many churches across the country and around the world to impact the lives of people with special needs,” said Erik Dellenback, executive director of the Tim Tebow Foundation. “After such an amazing response to the first two years of Night to Shine, our prayer is that this event will continue to change the face of Valentine’s Day weekend from simply a celebration of love, to a celebration of God’s love for people with special needs.”
Hildebrand said she anticipates around 200 special guests, each of whom will be paired with a volunteer. An additional 25 to 35 volunteers are needed to assist with a variety of other duties from hair styling and assisting guests to serving food and supervising the sensory room that helps soothe overwhelmed participants.
Adults and teen volunteers (ages 14 and up) are requested. Background checks are required for all volunteers. “If there are catechists or others who already have had a background check, that would be wonderful. Minors will need a parent permission slip signed in order to volunteer,” Hildebrand said.
Her organizing team also seeks assistance in fundraising and submitting grant requests. “We will only limit the number of guests by our budget. I hope we do not have to turn away anyone for this unforgettable experience,” she added.
In addition, “I hope that every special guest walks away from this event knowing that they are loved unconditionally. More importantly, it is my hope that every volunteer walks away with a changed heart. It would be awesome if this event leads to the development of some new special needs ministries in the greater Quad-City area.”
Check out Our Lady of the River’s fundraising website for Night to Shine at http://tinyurl.com/jnckqwn.
For more information on the worldwide “Night to Shine Movement,” visit the website: http://tinyurl.com/ j5euvxo.