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Night to Shine Prom | Tim Tebow Foundation|Gator Nation | Legacy Park | Gainesville, FL

The Night to Shine Prom event, sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation, didn’t start out much different than other events I’ve photographed. We received instructions for what to expect during the event and then we dispersed into our positions. I could not have fathomed the impact it would have on me.

The Night to Shine event really blew my mind, and I wouldn’t say that lightly. Everything was so BEAUTIFUL on so many different levels. First, there was the joy on the faces of our honored guests, then the displayed of servant hearts from our volunteers, and then the overwhelming appreciations for all the planning that went into the event. So many details were thought out carefully to ensure that everyone would have a safe and fun time. Most importantly, that they would feel loved.

Let’s talk about the JOY!!

With flowers in her hands, I overheard one of our guests screamed “I’m SOOOO happy!!” My heart just melted. She hadn’t even gone pass the entrance yet. I wonder if she knew there were much more in stored, waiting for her on the inside. Yet, I couldn’t help but felt so humbled that I could be part of something that brought so much joy into someone’s life. Some guests displayed their joy by running down the red carpet with their arms stretched open wide, touching and high-fiving the many hands that reached out to them. Others held out their autograph book for Albert to sign. Some paused to take pictures, others walked in slowly, looking inquisitively at everyone that was cheering for them. Some guests held on tightly to their buddy’s hands, others let go and bravely walked down the red carpet by themselves. The walk down the red carpet really gave each guest the opportunity to SHINE. Their different personalities and unique characteristics really shine through. They have the brightest smiles on their faces; I loved it!! And this was just at the entrance!!!

What amazing SERVING HEARTS!!

From the sideline of the red carpet, the paparazzi shouted encouraging words of cheers and compliments, giving high fives to every guest that walked by. Everyone worked tirelessly throughout the night. There were volunteers who were silently shining the guests’ shoes in a corner, to the Disney princesses going around greeting, singing, and dancing with the guests, to the party experts who were willing to do anything and everything—everybody were giving their hearts in serving our honored guests. I saw lots of selfless acts and volunteers denying themselves in order to bring joy to another, making our guests felt loved and taken care of. For some it was helping to feed the guest or take them to the bathroom, for others it was another dance, another song, another ride etc. Others were doing work behind the scenes to make sure the event run smoothly running from place to place. Shoes were abandoned on the dance floor but the dancing didn’t stop. The same songs were chosen more than once during the karaoke session but things never skipped a beat; the crowd sang along and cheered for each of our honored guests. Even Princess Rapunzel was singing “Let It Go” and gave it her all…EVERY TIME!

Oh my goodness, ALL THE DETAILS!!!

Every volunteers background were checked, there were police officers and medics on hand if needed, volunteered buddies were stationed at the same tent as their buddies during check in, different color lanyards were given to identify who are the coordinators, honored guests, volunteers, caregivers etc. The attention to details really showed the LOVE and CONSIDERATION for all of our special guests.

There were so many fun things to do and activities for everyone to enjoy. Food for the hungry, music for those that love to dance, karaoke for those that love to sing, boutique for those that wanted to get their hair and make up done, shoe shine for the fellas, limos for those that wanted to go for a ride, party bus for the parents and caregivers that wanted to go to town and enjoy a night out, even a lounge area for those that wanted to rest and recoup from all the festivities.

For those caregivers that wanted to stay close to the action, they are treated to a buffet and an array of desserts, from strawberry dipping chocolate fountain, to special ice cream treats, to cupcakes and cheesecake etc. Not only did they get to enjoy all that, they were able to connect with other families and caregivers, exchanging stories, tips, and life events, building friendships and establishing common grounds. I couldn’t help but think those conversations must have brought so much reassurance to hear that they were not alone, that others had good days and bad days too--that treatments, rehabilitations, doctor appointments, and hospital visits were norms for others too beside themselves. Not only was the event great for our honored guests, I can only imagine what that three hours did for some family members and caregivers that were there too. I felt loved and honored to have been there… and I WASN’T EVEN the intended recipient…I was just a VOLUNTEER trying to serve.




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