Highway Tabernacle in Austintown recently announced it will serve as one of more than 350 churches around the world hosting Night to Shine, sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation. The nationwide events will be held simultaneously Feb. 10.
Night to Shine is a prom-night experience centered on God's love for people ages 14 and older with special needs. The Tim Tebow Foundation began the event three years ago and it hopes to reach all 50 states next year before going global.
For Highway Tabernacle, this is the first year. It started when Duane and Tracie Corll visited another church that was holding the event.
Photo by J.T. Whitehouse
Duane and Tracie Corll along with the Rev. Gary Gray are pulling together the finishing touches for a Night to Shine for special-needs teens and adults. It will be the first time the event is being held locally under the Tim Tebow Foundation program. Each special-needs person who attend will experience prom and enjoy a night of festivities, including being crowned queen or king.
"We have a children's ministry and we serve eight special-needs children and adults," Tracie Corll said. "This just seemed like the right thing to bring to our church."
The Corlls spearheaded the mission to bring the event to Highway Tabernacle. They contacted the Tim Tebow Foundation and were awarded a grant of $8,500 for the event. The only stipulation was they needed to have a minimum of 75 special needs teens and young adults attend.
"Our goal this year is 100," Tracie Corll said.
According to the Corlls, the event will begin when the first special-needs person arrives. They will first be teamed up with a chaperone, or buddy, for the evening.
"We have missionaries at Kent State University and Youngstown State University," Duane Corll said. "They are busy recruiting college students to serve as buddies for the event."
The buddies will guide the special-needs person around to the various stops to prepare them for their "night to shine." The ladies will have their nails and hair done by a stylist, while the guys also get pampered, such as shoe shining, and afterwards all participants will enjoy a dinner. Each will receive a corsage and boutonnieres
After dinner, they will head by limo to the front of Highway Tabernacle, where a red carpet will be placed, along with a backdrop for photographs. The attendees will be greeted by a friendly crowd and paparazzi as they walk the red carpet.
Inside, the guests will enjoy karaoke, prom favors and a dance floor. Each special-needs teen or young adult will then get a chance to sit on a throne and be crowned king and queen for the night.
"At the end, they will go home with a goody bag," Tracie Corll said.
They also will leave with much, much more, the Corlls said, they will go home with memories to last a lifetime.
Local resident Sandee Timmerman has four special-needs children attending. She said Night to Shine is an event they have been looking forward to.
"There are many that never have had a chance [to attend an event like this]," Timmerman said. "Some have a prom and WinterFest, but that is all. Our population stays young at heart for many years and to be able to attend and continue to attend, will put them over the moon excited. You see our family members live much longer lives than historically thought, where with this special night they will never age out. How wonderful to feel special, over the moon special, for one evening every year."
As for local support, the Corlls said businesses have responded and are helping out in a big way. Duane said Rent-A-Center in Austintown is providing couches and televisions for the event. Something New Florists and Joe Mineo Events offered to handle the decor for the event.
"This is going to be a special, special night," the Rev. Gary Gray, pastor of Highway Tabernacle, said.
To donate services, volunteer as a buddy or learn more about the event, visit the church website at http://www.highwaytab.church/night-to-shine.
During Night to Shine 2015, 44 host churches and 15,000 volunteers worked together to honor more than 7,000 kings and queens of the prom. Last February, Night to Shine 2016 saw 450 percent growth, reaching 32,000 honored guests in 201 host churches with 75,000 volunteers.
Night to Shine 2017 promises to be the biggest event yet, with more than 350 churches already signed up to participate all around the world, which includes Highway Tabernacle.