I recently had the honor of being a part of an event. This yearly extravaganza occurs in over 500 locations across the world on the same night. Although thousands of teenagers from all walks of life look forward to this same type of celebration, what made this day in February so special was the needs it fulfilled. Sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation, it is a prom for young men and women of all abilities—the community of special needs. A “common unity” that should always exist and is gaining momentum in miraculous ways, the Night to Shine Prom is the party of the year where everyone gets to shine.
As a mother of a beautiful young girl who has mild cerebral palsy, the path of her future seemed so treacherous in the beginning. I learned that life can go “topsy-turvy” in a blink of an eye as many families can attest. The visions of a future filled with sports activities, dances, graduations and weddings was stolen as we were given a limiting outcome by the medical world. Stripped from our loved one, or so we thought, was the potential joy of participating in common activities. Parents in similar circumstances might never imagine, during the darkest moments of a trial, how much light was going to form to help us see a bit more clearly.
Side by side with our child, we continue to be led to a path of some fabulous roads of healing and rejuvenation. As much as we can feel “disorganized” with trying to put all the pieces together, along comes an “organization” like the Tim Tebow Foundation to help everyone feel like kings and queens. Most important is the grounded message that our children have always been worthy—since the day they entered our world.
The day began early for me since I had excitedly signed up to assist for multiple volunteer opportunities. My abundance of eagerness to change the world in a day was going to be accomplished through my tireless charity of actions (or at least try!). If I can’t change the medical setback that happened to my daughter, at least I can be a part of the flock that wants to assist in making this world a nicer place.
The evening added another moment that was an amendment to my child’s life, changing one of my many worries into humble hope.
I have learned that changes never happen when we want, but changes happen when we need them. With patience I hope to one day see the droplets of positive changes finally filling up that cup. This was one night that the cup overflowed as I watched dozens of people help prepare for the excursion.
I got to apply make up for the women and children attending, and I saw their expressions as they got pampered and adored by a fellowship of loving individuals at Cornerstone Church. The hair, make-up, and the fitting of dresses and tuxes completed, it was on to Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church where limousines pulled up to provide rides around the block. Cheering occurred as the guests were introduced and walked down the red carpet wearing their king and queen crowns. Poses for photos and dancing filled the gym while a short walk across the courtyard echoed the sounds of the room that held a karaoke festivity. Each guest was partnered up with a buddy as some parents enjoyed downtime in the respite room or, for families needing less stimulation, there was a sensory room that offered a comfortable, quiet environment.
There wasn’t a face in the building that wasn’t lit up. It was a moment centered on catering to allpeople of all abilities. What a great night and what immense memories were created by a simple action of treating everyone like royalty. The night was filled with smiles!
It gives me hope for this world filled with so many unknowns—a world where our children are going to be given the great responsibility to become communities that are built on a foundation of kindness and love. The blueprint for the future was revealed in the Night to Shine prom, where the world’s priorities were reconstructed, one light at a time.
Stefanie Boggs-Johnson is the mother of a pediatric stroke survivor and is the owner of For Every Season, providing in-home beauty services for the special needs and elderly communities. She is also the published author of “I See You, Little Naomi” and “I See You, Little Andrew”, educational children’s books which promote special needs awareness and compassion. For more information, please visit her Facebook page @ForEverySeasonBeauty.