WILSON, NC (WNCT) — Members of the special needs community are being celebrated this year.
Night to Shine will be held at Shiloh Pentecostal Holiness Church in Wilson. It’s an event sponsored and started by the Tim Tebow Foundation.
“It’s basically a night for individuals with special needs that are 14 years and older. It gives them an opportunity to experience a prom-like event, but it’s more than prom. It’s, basically their night to shine,” said Andy Winstead, council member for Shiloh Pentecostal Holiness Church. “It’s a special night for them. It’s all about them.”
Night to Shine takes place in Wilson on Feb. 10. Churches all over the world will participate simultaneously to recognize people with special needs as important. It is also held to call attention to the inclusion of special needs people.
Through their own experience having special needs children, Andy Winstead and his wife Tangy Winstead understand the importance of inclusion for special needs people.
“The special needs community is about 15% of our population. In Wilson County alone, I think there’s 1,000 special needs families, and its the most underserved group of individuals,” said Andy Winstead. “With us having twins and walking the walk, you see a lot of things that individuals with special needs are left out of.”
“One of the things that Tim Tebow wants us to make sure that we do is let these people know that they are seen, they’re heard and that they matter,” said Tangy Winstead, the events coordinator for Shiloh Pentecostal Holiness Church. “They are the image bearers of God, of the most high king and that they are kings and queens every single day.”
The Winsteads hope that Night to Shine’s impact lasts for much longer than the event itself.
“After this, we don’t want to forget about it. We want to do this every single day of the year,” said Tangy Winstead. “We want to love on these individuals 365 days a year, and also to keep shining on in the community for our individuals so that they know that they can attend a church that understands special needs, no matter the age.”
The community came together to provide dresses, costume jewelry and tuxedos. Those that were planning to attend prom were allowed to go and pick their outfit for Night to Shine.
“I was like, ‘How cool would it be to say yes to the dress?” said Tangy Winstead. “I didn’t really know how many people would come out, but we had so many people come out that we were able to serve. We even had a seamstress that did all the work as far as hemming and pinning.”
They are still looking for volunteers for the night for various things, including “buddies,” that will be paired up with attendees.
“We are looking for all kinds of volunteers. Most importantly volunteers to be ‘buddies’ to these individuals that come to prom,” said Tangy Wilson. “We will train the buddies to get them ready for this night. Then we have need for help with decorating the prom, cleaning up, food, parents room, sensory room areas and security.”