Seymour Christian Church hosting Night to Shine event in February


Night to Shine, sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation, is a prom night experience centered on God’s love for people with special needs ages 14 and older.

On Feb. 11, 2022, the eighth annual event will bring together thousands of people from around the world to honor those with disabilities.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the safety of every honored guest as a top priority, for the second year in a row, Night to Shine will be a worldwide Shine-Thru Parade and Virtual Celebration.

That’s a drive-thru adaptation where guests can enjoy many of their favorite elements of Night to Shine from their vehicle. A drive down the red carpet, cheering paparazzi, photography opportunities, music, dancing, decorations and special guests or characters are just a few of the ways guests will be celebrated.

Next year, a local church will be a host site.

Melanie O’Neal, who attends Seymour Christian Church and is the planning coordinator for The Arc of Jackson County and executive director of Mental Health America of Jackson County, said once she learned about Night to Shine, she wanted to go through the process to bring it here.

She nominated the church and submitted the application and recently learned SCC was chosen and a grant from the Tim Tebow Foundation will be awarded to help put on the event, set for 6 to 9 p.m. Feb. 11.

Matthew Hanks, student pastor at SCC, said his home church in Oregon hosted the event several times, but he never participated until he was in college.

“Just the impact on everybody involved, not just people with special needs, but those that are partnering with them, those that are buddies, parents, family members, is amazing to see in the community,” he said. “I think that’s one reason why we want to do it is because that impact could really take effect here in Jackson County and just change the way that this county views people with special needs.”

While she’s discouraged it can’t be an in-person event, O’Neal said the special needs population will be very, very excited to attend.

“This is geared for people that can’t participate in regular social settings or regular proms,” she said. “The goal is for participants to feel special that night.”

Once entering the church parking lot in a vehicle, participants will drive through, or “shine through.”

“It’s basically like a drive down the red carpet,” Hanks said. “There’s going to be people cheering them on. There’s going to be photography opportunities, music, dancing, lights, decorations, special guests or characters. We might get some people that will dress up in something, just make it extra special.”

Whether they choose to dress up like they would at a prom or just wear comfortable, casual clothing, it doesn’t matter.

“We want them to dress whatever way that they would feel the most special,” Hanks said. “If someone feels the best and most comfortable wearing sweatpants, we’re not going to force them to wear a suit. If they want to do that, then we want to encourage them to do that because it’s their night. It’s all about them.”

As they leave the parking lot, participants will receive a boxed meal and a sling backpack.

Once they return home, they can visit a link on the Tim Tebow Foundation website, where Tebow, a former professional football and baseball player who now is a sports broadcaster, will deliver a message to participants and officially crown them king and queen of the prom.

O’Neal said there’s no limit to the number of attendees and no charge to participate, but people do need to register online at so she knows how many meals and backpacks to order.

Also at that link, people can sign up to volunteer at the event. O’Neal said all volunteers have to complete a background check and also will be required to wear a mask at the event.

O’Neal and Hanks are part of a committee planning the event. That includes members of the church, community members who have an interest in people with special needs and The Arc board members.

A goal of the Tim Tebow Foundation and the host sites for Night to Shine is it’s not just a one-night event, it’s about inviting people with special needs to church and establishing relationships.

”So this isn’t just a one-night welcome from Seymour Christian Church. This is if you are looking for your own church, if you don’t feel comfortable or if you have not felt welcome at other churches, we want to open and extend that invitation to people here at Seymour Christian Church so that they feel comfortable coming here,” O’Neal said. “We have some members with disabilities. It’s important to us to not only provide for them but others in the community.”

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