St. Christopher’s Catholic Church in Chester, Md., joined over 540 other churches in all 50 states and in 16 countries to hold the “Night to Shine” prom Feb. 9 for people with special needs. “Night to Shine” is sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation, and this year more than 90,000 guests attended, supported by more than 175,000 volunteers. St. Christopher’s was one of nine churches in Maryland to participate, and the only Catholic Church on the Delmarva peninsula.
Led by Director of Electronic Communications Bridgitte Bailey, and assisted by Director of Music and Parish Ministry Maryalice Davis and several others, the St. Christopher’s staff began organizing the event last year after receiving a grant from the foundation. This was the staff’s first time being involved with “Night to Shine,” and they could have hardly expected the overwhelming support of the parish and community. About 200 would-be volunteers, roughly half of them high-school students, came to a mandatory registration and training session on Jan. 16, about three weeks before the event. Donations of prom gowns, shoes, and men’s jackets had come in so that the invited guests could choose what they wanted to wear to the dance.
On the evening of Feb. 9, about 100 guests—ranging in age from 14 years up through senior citizens—arrived at St. Christopher’s. Each guest had a physical and/or intellectual special need, and many came from area facilities such as the Chesterwye Center in nearby Grasonville, Md. Each guest was escorted from their vehicle by tuxedo-clad Knights of Columbus from the parish council, and was enthusiastically cheered by scores of volunteers as they made their way down a red carpet into the church’s social hall, with photographers snapping photos as they went.
Upon signing in, each guest was paired with a volunteer “buddy” who would accompany them for the evening. The ladies went to hair and make-up stations for last-minute preparations, while the gentlemen enjoyed having their shoes shined. After that, it was time to party — and what a party it was. A DJ played dance music, photographers took portraits, guests enjoyed limo rides around the block, karaoke was available, and, of course, there was plenty to eat and drink.
Throughout the evening, guests and “buddies” reveled in the fun and fellowship. At the end of the festivities, a video message from Tim Tebow was played, and crowns were distributed to each guest as they were named “kings” or “queens” of the prom.