A Night of Smiles

A Night to Shine and be who you truly are


Emma Clasen

Jessica Nuckolls and her buddy with Emma Clasen. On the night of Febuary 8th, 2019, at a Night to Shine.

The night starts off with a red carpet. You hear your name announced and the crowd cheering. You feel on top of the world, like a celebrity. You walk into a room with lights of many colors and upbeat music. Your confidence boosts, you’re still nervous but your buddy makes you feel safe. You feel the excitement in your chest.

Everyone knows Tim Tebow for playing professional baseball and football, but he also has a program called a Night to Shine. Night to Shine is a program he started for people with special needs ages 13 and up. One night a year, churches across the country host a prom for people who have mental and physical disabilities. 

Last year, for the first time, my church held a Night to Shine. Everyone who has a disability is paired up with a buddy. Last year I was paired up with *Lauren. We spent the night dancing and talking about what was going on in our lives. Lauren and I sat with two other groups. As we sat down at our table, I recognized the girl across from me. Her name was Jessica Nuckolls. Last year, Nuckolls was a senior at Francis Howell Central Highschool. 

During the rest of second semester, Nuckolls and I began walking together in the mornings and talking at lunch. I was even lucky enough to see her at my work one day.  I was so happy to see her. When I walked over to her, she gave me the biggest hug and the brightest smile. I got to meet her parents and talk to them for a little while. 

We have a separate room for the guardians and caregivers of the guests, near the end of the dance Lauren’s mom came to the gymnasium to see how Lauren was doing. She pulled my grandma aside in tears and talked to my grandma  and told her how happy she was that Lauren was being social and having fun. I made many bonds that night, ones I will never forget. 

If you get a chance to attend and help with a Night to Shine or any event like it, take it. I promise you won’t regret it. February 8th, 2019, will be a night that I will forever remember. Be kind to others, it makes you a better person and gives you the chance to make amazing memories.