Have you ever seen magic happen right in front of your very own eyes? I have. I get to see it happen every single February. For those of you that have read anything I have written, you have probably come across something about my work with disabled kids and adults and my passion for working within that community of people. I have family members that are differently-abled and that makes this a personal mission of mine.
Each February I sign up to be a part of the “Glam Squad” for The Tim Tebow Foundation’s Night To Shine. I should note here that I am not a makeup wearing, hair style doing kind of lady. I wear blue jeans almost everyday and it’s a special occasion if I wear makeup. My work with the Glam Squad is to dedicate an entire Friday sitting in an employment office while our customers come in to be pampered. We do their nails, makeup and hair. The employment office provides scones, cookies and bagels to nibble on while they wait. Before the day begins we are briefed with our stations and what to expect. This isn’t an ordinary briefing. We are taught how to handle people who may have developmental disabilities, sensory issues, and behavioral abnormalities. We are taught when to recognize if someone has had too much, when to take a break and what kind of things we are free to discuss. Our “customers” are of all ages and abilities. I’ve had girls & women not even speak to me and that’s fine as long as I know they’ve left happy. I’ve had girls chat my ears off about the color of their dress and the latest princess movie they’ve seen and how they want to be a princess tonight. You never know what you’re going to get. I leave the employment office both exhausted and energized. It’s the strangest feeling. This is just the first step of the night.
Next, I pick up my aunt and bring her to get her hair and makeup done, so she can feel special and pampered. She will be my prom date. She is the prom queen between us, I am simply her escort. We stop back by her house to show off her princess look to my grandmother who compliments how gorgeous she looks, endlessly. We pose for prom pictures together and giggle at whatever topic we have found to laugh at together. There is always something we have found hilarious together by this point in our evening. Dinner is served at 6:30 PM by more volunteers than I can count. We better get a move on.
My church, where this is hosted, is across the street from my aunt and grandmother’s apartment so we get there before dinner, with enough time to walk around and check out the photo booths, props and any other fun activity the Tim Tebow Foundation may have provided for this amazing event. We make our way to our large table where we have menu cards. We painstakingly decide on just one of each course and carefully I help my aunt to mark each option on her card. Once the opening prayer is spoken, a volunteer comes to us and takes our menu cards up to the food line. They bring back our food and are attentive of us during all of dinner. They clear our plates, they complement my aunt’s outfit. They smile and laugh with us because tonight is a night of fun and joy for everyone.
After dinner the dancing begins! My aunt looks forward to doing the YMCA all year. I do it so poorly that we ultimately end up limp armed and cackling in the back of the dance floor together. But that’s OK. I wouldn’t have it any other way. There are people of all kinds on the floor, people in wheelchairs, with crutches and walkers, people with their aides and people with their dates. No one makes anyone feel different. It’s the most amazing thing I see all year. At the end of the night when I bring my aunt home I can tell she is so exhausted but in the best way. I go home and excitedly tell my fiance all about it. I am usually reluctant to take off my plastic dollar store crown that has now become a fixture on my book shelf. I mark off on my calendar another year done and start a count down in my phone to the next. Yeah, it’s that amazing.
This year, I was called to do more than to go and volunteer my time. Although I still plan on doing that and enjoying every minute of it, I wanted to do something that felt more meaningful. I came across something on my Twitter from The Tim Tebow Foundation about becoming a fundraiser. I didn’t know I could do that!! I thought the money from this event came from private donors! Nope! It’s people like you and me that supply the foundation with the funds and the volunteers to make this night magical. How humbling, I mean, wow! So after discussing this with my fiance we decided to do it! I am excited and blessed to be able to raise funds for something I believe in with 100% of my heart and get to enjoy each year as a volunteer and a prom date.
WordPress users, I’m asking your help. I don’t do this often and I won’t make a habit out of it. But if you could see the looks on these girls and boys faces when they walk into a receiving line of people applauding and cheering for them it’s the thing I care most about in this world. I have family and friends that have faced these challenges every day of their lives and I know how much this one night means to them. Please consider helping the cause and donating. I can’t do this alone. Every little bit counts. $1.00 or $100.00. There is no “small” donation. Thank you for even reading and considering. My heart is full just knowing I’ve spread the word of such a magical event. God bless!
Visit the link below to donate to the cause: