FLUSHING, MI – Westside Church hit a milestone of their history on February 8,2019. It was a night when more than 200 volunteers gathered and shined God‘s love into the lives of 80 guests with special needs and more than 80 members of their families. It was a Night To Shine prom sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation and Westside Church.
Guests check-in and met there buddy that would be their guide to a fun-filled night like they have never experienced. They danced the night away, sang karaoke, took a silly photo and then a beautiful prom picture. They primp and were pampered before they made their grand entrance from a limo on to the red carpet. Lori Rathbun lead the primp and pamper station and said, “So many volunteers come expecting to be a blessing, but end up receiving the biggest blessings.”
All of this was led by volunteer Robbie Lawrence, who put countless hours into organizing and carrying out the night, but it could never have happened without the more than 200 other volunteers who serve so selflessly. Everything done that night was about sharing God‘s love and the hope that can only be found in His gospel. Lawrence said, “I love that we can provide a place for people with special needs to come and have an evening that is all about them.”
This night is not just about the guests, but it’s also about their families. According to one mom, “Night to Shine not only is a place that our child is accepted and loved, but so are we.” Great effort is made to be sure that the family members have a night with no worries, and they just get to relax and enjoy a great meal and time of fellowship.
The night ended with a special message from Tim Tebow via video, and Pastor Ed Emmerling live, telling each guest how special they were created by God who loves them and made them just the way they are. Then each guest was crowned king and queen of the prom followed by a couple last dances to top it all off. Annette Howser, who served as a buddy, remembers “the joy that overwhelmed me at that moment the crown was placed on her guest’s smiling face.” The crowning moment was a favorite by many of the guests, volunteers and family. As guests leave they were given parting gift bags with several things to commemorate their “night to shine”, but nothing will top the memories.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ed Emmerling is Pastor of Westside Church in Flushing. He is married to Renee.