Texarkana, AR – Social media came alive last night as people started to notice unusually bright lights to the north of the Interstate in Texarkana, Arkansas. Almost immediately people began to post questions such as “Anyone notice those lights?” and “Anybody know what’s going on in Texarkana with the lights?” It did not take long for the answers to come flowing in as people responded it’s the “Night to Shine” event at the convention center. Spotlights could be seen from across town as they cut into the night to announce that the party was about to begin.
Several hundred people descended into the Arkansas Convention center between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. in the evening. At about 6 p.m., hundreds more began to flood through the doors. They were met by police officers, the Pleasant Grove Hawks, and Liberty Eylau Football teams, Arkansas High Redline and the Arkansas High Cheerleaders along with dozens more as they entered the room. The focus of all the volunteers from Football teams to dance teams and church groups and police groups was to welcome a special group of people to a Night to Shine.
The annual Night to Shine is sponsored by the local organization of Night to Shine Texarkana The local organization is part of the larger Night to Shine Sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation and is designed to allow people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to gather and party in a formal prom styled atmosphere and dance. Surrounding organizations such as Evergreen Life Services, Opportunities, and many others worked to ensure the people they serve had formal dresses and suits for the evening. Once they arrived, the Pleasant Grove Hawks and Liberty Eylau players helped escort the ladies and the Arkansas High Redline and Cheerleaders escorted the men onto the dance floor.
The party rocked on from 6 p.m. until just after 10 p.m. Friday evening. Several people noted that parking was full and that cars were parked as far away as the restaurants and other hotels around the area. People posted pictures on social media, videos, and praise announcements. The night was a considered a huge success with the room packed from wall-to-wall. Perhaps some of the warmest and most sincere social media posts came from the many people who benefited from the event. The post could be seen all over social media such as “Great night with my friends at Shine,” “Me and my girlfriend had fun,” and “Wow, wow, wow” along with dozens of others.
The Runnin’ WJ Ranch on their Facebook page noted that a Night to Shine is “A worldwide movement. Changing Valentine’s Day weekend from simply a celebration of love to a celebration of God’s love, for people with special needs. An unforgettable prom night experience. A celebration of the value of life. A night when all guests are kings and queens of the prom. Held simultaneously on one night around the world. Changing the narrative on how people with special needs are viewed.”
The Tim Tebow Foundation (online) promotes the event as a night for thousands to shine and be crowned as kings and queens of proms. Tim Tebow formed the foundation in January 2010, just after his graduation and before he started his NFL career. In addition to the Night to Shine, the foundation is building hospitals, helping with adoptions, fighting cancer and promoting Christian values around the world. Tebow gained fame and criticism from some for his Christian faith which has been unwaivering. Tebow’s openness for prayer on the football field prompted the wall decoration company Fathead to make a “Tebowing” Fathead with an image of Tim Tebow bowing in prayer on the field.
…The “Tebowing” Fathead remains the companies best selling sticker to date.