SIMPSONVILLE, S.C. (Christian Examiner) -- In February, the Tim Tebow foundation celebrated its 5-year anniversary with an initiative to serve the special needs community with a memorable glamor-filled night, complete with surprise appearances from the former NFL player.
On Feb. 13 the organization hosted nearly 7,000 special needs individuals across the U.S. for a "Night to Shine" prom for special needs teens ages 16 and older.
"When this project began, we hoped that on this night, the churches would shine, the volunteers would shine, Christ would shine and our guests would feel like kings and queens," Erik Dellenback, Executive Director of the Tim Tebow Foundation said in a written press release. "We believe that's exactly what happened!"
Churches from 44 cities in 26 states across the nation participated in the event organized by more than 15,000 volunteers. Additionally, a number of churches in Uganda and Kenya also took part.
Tebow made several surprise visits to the events. He first stopped by a church in North Carolina where he emphasized that the prom's purpose was to let them know how special they are in God's eyes.
"Tonight, our number one goal it to make you feel like kings and queens," Tebow told the crowd. "But to be honest with you, every moment of your life, God looks at you like a king or a queen because you are so special."
He then boarded a plane to Brookwood Church in Simpsonville, South Carolina where he also shined shoes, posed for pictures and walked event attendees down the red carpet.
In a written statement concerning the event's success, Tebow said, "Words cannot adequately express the joy that I experienced during Night to Shine."
"It is very humbling and overwhelming, but when you simply spend time together, you can begin to turn statistics into stories!"
In it's five-year existence, the Tim Tebow Foundation has had a broad reaching, world-wide impact through its various initiatives including Orphan Care and the W15H (WISH) initiative. Last year the Foundation opened the Tebow CURE Hospital in the Phillipines.
Tebow's Foundation hopes to make the "Night to Remember" celebrations an annual event with the help of supporting donors.