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Macon County’s Night to Shine event changes format due to pandemic 

For the past three years, Cartoogechaye Baptist church has been proud to host the annual Night to Shine in Macon County.

Night to Shine is an unforgettable prom experience for people with special needs, aged 14 and older. This event, started by the Tim Tebow Foundation, is centered on God’s love and celebrates people with special needs. According to the Tim Tebow Foundation, approximately 90,000 guests attend “Night to Shine” in more than eight countries with the help of 175,000 volunteers

Night to Shine events were started by the Tim Tebow Foundation in 2015 with Macon County starting a local event in February 2018. The event is hosted around the world with more than 500 churches participating each year. While the local event is hosted in Macon County, guests who attend the event are from across Western North Carolina.

As Macon County approaches the fourth year of hosting the event this February, the COVID19 pandemic has forced some changes to ensure safety protocols are met, while still proving a special night to treat all the guests like the queens and kings they are.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Night to Shine 2021 will be transitioned to provide a virtual experience for guests. The Tim Tebow Foundation will be live streaming the event for participants, who can watch the event from wherever they are located on February 12.

While the main event will be hosted virtually, volunteers in the community are working to provide a special experience for guests prior to the Prom. Cartoogechaye Baptist Church is working to organize a “Shine Through” to be held on February 11 at the Franklin High School track.

“We are still working on details but there will be a lot going on for the participants,” says Carolanne Elliot, event organizer with Cartoogechaye Baptist Church. “The FHS band will be there along with lots of volunteers cheering on the guests as they drive through. They will be given crowns and tiaras and gift bags. We are very excited to be able to do this.”

Each year, guests are invited to be fitted and style for the prom, with tuxes and prom dresses as well as jewelry to make the night a little more spectacular. While volunteers are working to provide a COVID19 safe event for the more than 100 guests who attend, Elliott said support from the community is still needed.

“Due to the restrictions this year has brought, we have not been able to have fundraisers that we need to help keep this event going,” said Elliott. “We ask that anyone that would like to make any monetary donations or donate clothes, any prom accessories to please contact us. Any donations will be greatly appreciated.”

Prom clothes are collected throughout the year from donations and are sorted out by size and reserved for guests to try on for prom night. Items may need alterations and several of the volunteers who are on the alteration/fitting team take them home to adjust for the guests. After three years of holding the event in WNC, Elliott said that a permanent storage location for event supplies is also needed.

“We are also in great need of a place to store all of our clothes and things we have acquired during this process,” said Elliott. “God has blessed us to the point we have outgrown all of our storage that we have now. When we outgrew the place we had at the church, All Saints Church graciously stepped up to help but we are in need of a permanent home. We would love to have a place that would not only store all of our things but also be able to have fittings and a place for guests to be able to come and get ready.”

Elliott said that while the event may look a little different the year, the mission of the Tim Tebow Foundation “To bring Faith, Hope, and Love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need,” is more important than ever.

“God has truly blessed this event and we are excited to continue ministering to our wonderful guests for years to come,” said Elliott. “The whole idea for the event is to not only show them that we love them but most importantly that God loves them.”

Anyone that would like to donate or help in any way can contact Cheryl Richter at franklinnighttoshine@yahoo.com or on their Facebook page Night To Shine Cartoogechaye Baptist Church. 

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