Chapelwood UMC, Houston Hosts “Night to Shine” for People with Special Needs
Chapelwood UMC, Houston joined over 350 other churches across 50 states and 11 countries to give people with special needs the ‘royal treatment’ on February 11.
It was a “Frozen” themed night for Kourtlyn Irwin. She wore an ice blue dress to the Tim Tebow Foundation’s “Night to Shine” prom event hosted by Chapelwood UMC Houston complete with a tiara placed on her head by Miss Teen Texas. Her enchanted experience included a stop by the ‘beauty station’ for makeup and a fancy hairdo inspired by the movie character Elsa. Later, the evening limo driver dropped the special guests right to the red carpet leading into a space within Chapelwood UMC elegantly decorated for the festivities.
Almost 300 volunteers helped make Night to Shine possible for about 120 special needs participants. Attendees enjoyed a broadcast greeting from the host -- baseball and football athlete Tim Tebow, welcoming them to the “ball.” After dinner, a disc jockey filled the room with good tunes and good times. “My favorite part was singing karaoke,” shares Kourtlyn, who, naturally, sang the theme from Frozen, “Let it Go” – complete with the arm motions.
“We so appreciate Chapelwood for hosting this awesome event, that made Kourtlyn feel so special” says mother, Beth Irwin. “She loved getting her hair and makeup done in the brides room, and she made a new friend named Rachel that night.”
Another highlight for Kourtlyn was a room full of therapy dogs, including one wearing a top hat and doggie-sized tuxedo.
Karen Lopes, Director of Special Needs Ministry, applied last year on the Tim Tebow Foundation website to be a host church. There are about 15 participating churches in Texas, and 300 nationwide. "In the special needs community, it's very common for kids to not attend a prom. Since these families don't always experience those milestones -- like the prom,” she says, “I think even the parents are super excited that their kids get to experience something that is not typical in their world." While the participants enjoyed the Night to Shine events, many of their parents and caregivers attended a respite care seminar hosted at Chapelwood.