They walked in on the red carpet surrounded by a crowd of paparazzi. Amidst the cheers and the camera flashes, a sparkle started to show in their eyes, and a smile began to form on their faces. Surrounded by their parents, who shared the same sparkle and smile, it was then that we knew Night to Shine Lebanon would truly be a night of a lifetime for us and our guests. It was a night where we learned that going the extra mile in loving and caring would not only be a gift for our special guests, but also a rewarding pleasure that stills the storms raging in our souls. For one night, 150 volunteers, 40 celebrities, and tens of high-profile individuals forgot about work and individual responsibilities and joined efforts with only the happiness of 80 special guests and their parents in mind.
On a rainy February evening, even the clouds cleared to pave way for the stars that shone brighter that night to radiate some of their glow to our earthly stars who came from 16 specialized schools in Lebanon.
Night to Shine is a worldwide prom event for individuals with special needs where they enjoy a royal treatment. With the support of the Tim Tebow Foundation, more than 600 sites hosted more than 100,000 individuals with special needs to illustrate God’s love for them.
Under the patronage of Mrs Claudine Aoun Roukouz, President of the National Commission for Lebanese Women, and daughter of the President of the Lebanese Republic H.E. General Michel Aoun, SKILD Center (Smart Kids with Individual Learning Differences) hosted the first Night to Shine in the Middle East on February 8, 2019. The event started by volunteers rolling down the red carpets on each entrance to symbolize the royalty of our guests. Each special guest entered walking on the red carpet with their parents surrounded by cheering and clapping. While the parents were taken to a respite room to rest and enjoy their favors, the special guests continued their way to the make-up, hair, and shoe-shining areas. With live piano music, hair and make-up artists took the ladies to make their beauty shine brighter. The gentlemen were taken to their own booths to have their hair done and shoes shined. The photographers were waiting for our guests to arrive to the different photobooths to have portraits taken on a glowing moon and stars booth, a flower swing booth, and a folkloric Lebanese house booth. Chauffeurs were also waiting outside to take the stars on a limousine ride with their friends.
The stars, who were now shining brighter, were ready to meet the crowd waiting for them. With heads held high, each individual guest walked down another red carpet awaiting their coronation. On two different sides of the stairs walked down the guest facing the celebrity that was going to crown him or her king or queen of the prom. As the two met at the end of the double stairs, the celebrity, with eyes of appreciation and respect, laid a crown or tiara on the heads of very special royals, the royals of our hearts and of God’s eyes.
A seated dinner was then served for the crowned kings and queens after which they enjoyed dancing and singing with their friends, celebrities, and volunteers.
“This is the first event I attend where I actually have fun and laugh a lot, thank you for caring about me”. This is how 26-year-old Mazen expressed his gratitude for the Night to Shine volunteers as he was leaving with his gift bag.