A Night to Shine for Quincy Area Athletes

Brady Neisen and Summer Saathoff enjoy a Night to Shine.

On Feb. 13, the Crossing Church in Quincy hosted a Night to Shine prom for individuals with special needs as part of a program held at 42 churches in different cities across the country and 2 in other countries simultaneously and sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation.

Approximately 270 people with special needs (many of them Special Olympics athletes) from six of The Crossing’s campuses, including Quincy, Pittsfield, Macomb and Carthage, Ill., and Hannibal and Kirksville, Mo., attended, along with an additional 400 volunteers, said Debbie Fasano, a member of a 13 person small group that coordinated the event.

“The Tim Tebow Foundation knew of churches across the United States that they felt would be good candidates,” Fasano said. “Someone from the foundation contacted senior pastor, Jerry Harris, and he said yes.”

“The Tim Tebow Foundation has a heart for people with special needs and to celebrate our 5-year anniversary, we wanted to create a brighter day for people with special needs,” said Erik Dellenback, foundation executive director. “Everyone should have the opportunity to experience a prom where they feel loved and welcomed and we pray this event will positively impact the lives of thousands of people across the country.”

Jennifer NolinWinkler is escorted into A Night to Shine
Jennifer NolinWinkler is escorted into A Night to Shine

The foundation provided a manual with a detailed blueprint of how the evening would happen and funded a large portion to be used towards expenses, said Fasano. The evening included a red carpet entrance, a pairing with a buddy for the evening and VIP treatment including flowers, photography, food, dancing and more! There was an introduction ceremony where each guest was announced as they entered the red carpet leading them to the dance area.

The Crossing envisioned the Night to Shine as a bridge to “individuals who may be overlooked. And, to give those individuals a night focused specifically on them,” she said.

The church’s members were truly impacted by the night, including one who told an organizer through tears that “this is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. Please, let’s do it again.”

And, the dance attendees couldn’t wait to experience all there was to experience, said Fasano. “It was the look on their faces that said ‘This is my night’ ” that summed it all up.

By Michele Evans, Director of Communications