PGA TOUR takes volunteering outside the ropes at Night to Shine
One of six employee resource groups at the PGA TOUR, Connect YOU impacted their local community at the annual special-needs prom hosted by the Tim Tebow Foundation
February 12, 2020
By Jamie Handy, PGATOUR.COM
- February 12, 2020
- The Tim Tebow Foundation hosted their sixth annual Night to Shine in Jacksonville. (PGA TOUR)
Each year on the Friday before Valentine’s Day, the Tim Tebow Foundation hosts their annual special-needs prom, Night to Shine. On February 7th, PGA TOUR staff, through the employee resource group Connect YOU, gathered to celebrate all of the guests who were honored at the red-carpet event.
At the sixth annual Night to Shine in Jacksonville, Connect YOU members took full advantage to get involved and joined the red-carpet team to cheer on guests who walked into their prom at the VyStar Veteran’s Memorial Arena.
Before arriving to the red-carpet entrance, each guest was paired with a “buddy,” a volunteer who partners with the guest through their night at the prom. The guest and buddy then take a limo ride around the block before arriving to their event. As the limo doors opened, volunteers cheered as the guests’ names were announced and as they walked down the red carpet.
“This was my first time at Night to Shine and I can’t believe I waited this long to get involved,” said Dan DeMartini, Player Relations and Special Programs Manager for the PGA TOUR Wives Association. “Cheering on the attendees as they walked the red carpet was an experience I will never forget. There was so much joy and excitement shared that night, and it was incredible to see the commitment from the entire Jacksonville community. I am looking forward to signing up as a buddy next year.”
This was the first year that Connect YOU partnered with Night to Shine and will not be the last. For some of the guests, being cheered down the red carpet with high fives and shouts was their favorite part. Honorees have the opportunity to walk with their buddy down the carpet as many times as they would like, as this moment is some of their first times being celebrated for who they are.
Additional TOUR staff who had been involved for several years walked alongside their guest into the prom and spent the evening on the dance floor, at the photo booth or in the food line. At 8 p.m., a world-wide ceremonial crowning took place and every guest of the night was honored by receiving a crown to be announced as kings and queens of the evening.
A heartfelt video message was given by Tebow and the night continued on. For one of the first times in Night to Shine’s history, two guests of the night were engaged on stage in front of the crowd and all guests celebrated. As the night concluded around 9 p.m.,
“It was such an honor to represent Connect YOU and the PGA TOUR at Night to Shine,” said Courtney Wagner, Chair of Connect YOU and Marketing Services Coordinator of Golf Course Properties for the PGA TOUR. “The event was truly so life-changing not only for the guests, but also for us as volunteers. To see the direct impact you are making in a person’s life first-hand was just breathtaking and humbling beyond words.”
Connect YOU and every volunteer would surely agree that it is truly a Night to Shine.
About Night to Shine
Six years ago, Tim Tebow, former quarterback for the University of Florida football team and a native to Jacksonville, created the Night to Shine prom. Tebow wanted to impact his community, and the world, through an event that brings together a community of special-needs individuals through a grand celebration. Guests who are 14 years and older are welcome to enjoy a night in their honor. From childhood to adulthood, Tebow believed in helping others.
“Whether it is spending a weekend encouraging a child with a life-threatening illness through a W15H, helping a family adopt an international child with special needs, crowning kings and queens of the prom,” Tebow said, the night is meant to impact other’s lives.
After the foundation hosted their first event only six years ago, Tebow has expanded the impact to 34 different countries, including South Africa, the Philippines, Lebanon, Ecuador and hundreds of locations across North America in all 50 states. To date, the foundation has honored over 115,000 guests with the participation of over 215,000 volunteers.