When Kari McKown found out Crestview Church of Christ would be the first church in Central Texas to host Night to Shine, a prom sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation, she screamed with joy so loud her co-workers came running to see if she was OK, she said.
Her special needs sports ministry, No Limitations, had tried for about two years to find a way to host the prom night for people with special needs, said McKown, a board member. But the Tim Tebow Foundation, which the football-turned-baseball player started to support others facing struggles through faith, only partners with churches to host the event.
So when McKown learned Crestview was one of more than 500 churches worldwide recently selected to host simultaneous prom nights from 6 to 9 p.m. Feb. 9, her organization jumped at the chance to help, she said.
“That just shows you how God works, because I didn’t know they were interested and they didn’t know we were already interested,” McKown said. “We were extremely excited.”
No Limitations will be training volunteers to help 150 special needs guests leave their challenges and struggles on the dance floor, but first the church needs to find about 300 willing volunteers, organizers said. Volunteer registration starts Nov. 1. The event is open to people age 14 and older with special needs.
Organizers are also looking for donations to help give guests everything a typical high school prom has and then some, Crestview’s Community Minister Jack Whiddon said.
Whiddon heard about Night to Shine last year and was inspired by the program’s mission. He applied to host the event in February and heard back from the foundation in June, he said.
“Crestview’s a church where this is our kind of thing,” Whiddon said. “We wanted to serve our community, so I signed up as soon as I could to refer our church to the Tim Tebow Foundation. … February to June is a long time, so I was checking my emails every day. We were ready to get started.”
The foundation gave Crestview a grant for $8,500 to help cover the cost for Night to Shine’s first year in Central Texas, he said. But the church still needs businesses or donors willing to supply decorations, flowers for corsages and boutonnieres, a photo booth, and a red carpet entrance, he said.
The church also wants to include any “celebrity groups” willing show up for guests, Crestview Children’s Minister Emily Christian said. She hopes the event will bring out high school and college sports teams, mascots, cheerleaders or maybe bigger stars, like “Fixer Upper’s” Chip and Joanna Gaines, or Tebow himself, Christian said.
Guests will be greeted by a cheering crowd and a buddy who will stay by their side all night, organizers said. Guests will also have access to a karaoke room, a game room, a sensory room and a caregiver room if necessary, Whiddon said. Organizers are also trying to find a limousine company willing to drive guests around the church throughout the night to add to the overall prom experience.
“I’m most looking forward to seeing these kids feel as special as I know they are on that night, and seeing the community support them, not just those they’re used to supporting them, but a community coming together,” Christian said.
To volunteer or for more information, visit crestview-church.org and go to the “Night to Shine” page. To make a donation, call the church at 776-0711.