A Night to Remember

Junior spends unforgettable night at a dance put on by the Tim Tebow Foundation


Photo Courtesy of Kay Drwal

Smile beaming, junior Jospeh Drwal patiently waits for his turn to walk the red carpet. Every guest attending Night to Shine was able to walk the carpet while their name was announced. “When I walked down the carpet I smiled he whole time,” Drwal said. “I was nervous at first, but then I had a lot of fun and started blowing kisses and posing for the cameras.”

Taylor Hofbauer, Staff Writer

Blue and silver balloons hung in the air, clusters of twinkling lights lined the room and projected stars floated along the walls. In the midst of a large crowd of teenagers stood junior Joseph Drwal dancing along to the loud music. Dressed in a navy tuxedo with a black bow tie he picked out completely on his own, junior Joseph Drwal was read for his Prom night.

Upon Drawl’s arrival at Night to Shine, he was met with a red carpet completed with a crowd of paparazzi snapping pictures. As Drwal’s name was announced, he strut his stuff down the carpet, blowing kisses to the crowd all while a huge smile gleamed on his face. At the end of the red carpet stood Drwal’s parents; similar to any event to take a few photos and watch their son have a great time. This time it would be different. Drwal wanted to be independent and have his Night to Shine night to himself.

Night to Shine, an event sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation, celebrates people with special needs. It is a Prom put on for people 14 years and older with intellectual different abilities. King of Kings, a Lutheran church, was the first to host the event was in Omaha.

Just as any school Prom, Night to Shine had music and dancing, but it also had many other options for the guests. Once Drwal arrived to the dance he was provided dinner, could enjoy a karaoke or game room, pet therapy dogs, pose in the photobooth and even go on a limousine ride.

“My favorite part of the Prom was the dance floor,” Drwal said. “I got to dance with all of my friends and I sang karaoke, but I also really liked the dinner because I got to eat pasta and meatballs.”

Each guest had a buddy to spend the night with, but because Drwal is his social self, he spent his night with a multitude of his friends. One of those friends, senior Tess Ray, took part behind the scenes of the event ensuring each guest had a buddy. Tess was able to experience each stage of the event from the planning to greeting guests at the door to dancing and singing with the guests.

“I believe inclusion is important because everyone is made with their own special abilities and talents and this night these kids were able to truly shine,” Tess Ray said. “Events like Night to Shine are awesome because we are all made for a purpose and a reason that was able to be celebrated through these amazing people on the night of the dance.”

To top off the amazing night Drwal and each and every guest was honored as Kings and Queens of the Prom and given their very own crowns and tiaras in order to show them that they are special in their own way.

“Watching everyone put on their crown or tiara was priceless,” Tess Ray said. “Each person was able to be themselves and truly own who they are through their abilities and got to feel special while doing it.”

On February 8, 2019 the event celebrated its fifth anniversary worldwide. On one night, 655 churches from around the world came together to host Night to Shine for approximately 100,000 honored guests through the support of 200,000 volunteers.

Being an event for such a large amount of people, the Prom required much preparation. Guest Experience and Events Coordinator of King of Kings Lara Ray played a large role in planning, setting up, and making the event run smoothly.

“The event took months of planning but we had an overwhelming outpouring of support from the community for the event,” Ray said. “We were blown away by the response of the community as they came together to help create an unforgettable experience for our guests.”

After belting out some of his favorite songs and busting a couple moves on the dance floor, it was time for Drwal to turn in for the night and he brought home more than just a crown. Night to Shine exceeded all of Drwal’s expectations and he left with an unforgettable memory.