Annual prom night event for people with special needs lets hope, love ‘Shine-Thru’

8th Annual Night to Shine on Friday was virtual, drive-thru event because of pandemic

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Photo from Tim Tebow Foundation's annual prom night on Feb. 11, 2022.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Roughly 450 churches participated across 39 countries in the 8th Annual Night to Shine event on Friday -- which was again a virtual and drive-thru red carpet experience because of the ongoing pandemic.

GALLERY: Annual prom night event for people with special needs lets hope, love ‘Shine-Thru’

In Jacksonville, participants with intellectual and developmental differences are drove through a red carpet in front of VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, and News4JAX anchor Vic Micolucci was back hosting the VIP guests once again.

The unforgettable prom night experience is held annually on the Friday before Valentine’s Day. Although adapted culturally to honor guests in the various participating countries, each event typically includes dancing, karaoke and other elements often traditional to a high school prom.

Unlike a typical prom, however, each event also incorporates unique elements such as a red-carpet arrival for each guest, a Gospel presentation by Tim Tebow, and a special moment in which every individual is crowned king or queen of the prom.

“When we began to plan for Night to Shine 2022, we were hopeful that we could gather in person as we did before COVID,” TTF Founder Tim Tebow said. “But with the health and safety of our honored guests as one of our highest priorities, the decision was made to celebrate, once again, through both a drive-thru adaptation of the event and a virtual experience. Despite the different format, there is no doubt in my mind that God’s love for each and every one of the Kings and Queens will be on full display. I am excited to hear the stories of impact in the weeks to come!”

Hundreds of churches worldwide, including in Jacksonville, supported by thousands of volunteers have made Night to Shine the Tim Tebow Foundation’s marquee ministry event since 2015.

As a way of safely experiencing the excitement of the red carpet, a drive-thru version—appropriately titled “Shine-Thru”—was an idea implemented by many host churches across the United States in 2021, and included cheering volunteers along the driveable red carpet, music, special guests and characters, meals and gift bags for participants and their families, and more, all executed with appropriate safety precautions in place.

The foundations said the response was so overwhelmingly positive that Shine-Thru became the standard for many more churches hosting the 2022 event.

The celebration continued Friday evening at the home of every guest with the Night to Shine Virtual Celebration, with a 40-minute program hosted by Tim and Demi Tebow, and inclusive of musical numbers for dancing and karaoke, celebrity guest messages, a Gospel presentation, and a special moment at the end as the Tebows crown the guests as kings and queens of the prom.

The foundation said Night to Shine is made possible through the dedication of host churches, volunteers, and local organizations and businesses who have lent their support, as well as longtime global partner American Residential Services.