Night to Shine 2020

REBECCA J. BARNABI/THE NEWS VIRGINIAN

Guests and volunteers enjoy time on the dance floor at Augusta Expo during Night to Shine on Friday, Feb. 7, 2020.

FISHERSVILLE — The night included dancing, dresses, food and crowns.

But the night was really about sharing the love.

Night to Shine, sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation, was Friday at Augusta Expo for adults with special needs.

“This is God’s love and action in nearly its purest form,” said Cornerstone Church of Augusta Pastor Greg Mayo. “This is literally Heaven on Earth.”

Everyone is made in the image of God, Mayo said, including individuals who are given the label special needs.

Mayo said his prayer is God will “break down barriers for those with special needs and those who don’t have that label, because we all have needs.”

“There is so much love in this place,” Mayo said of Friday night’s event.

The event began five years ago at Cornerstone in Staunton with about 80 guests, but last year began to be held at Augusta Expo to accommodate more guests.

“It’s our favorite Friday of the year,” said Karen Carpenter, events coordinator for Cornerstone Church.

Carpenter said that 256 guests registered for this year’s Night to Shine, which brings together various churches and organizations throughout the Valley.

“It’s just a time that everybody comes together,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter said Night to Shine is always held the Friday before Valentine’s Day, and was made possible with the help of 554 volunteers this year.

“We want it to be a night that’s all about them,” Carpenter said. “They’re kings and queens tonight, a population that’s often overlooked.”

Sarah Layman and Kayla Turner, both of Waynesboro, have been friends since they were 3 years old. They attended this year’s event for the second time as guests, and said the event makes them both feel love and support from the community.

“I think it means we’re here to have fun and enjoy God’s love,” said Layman, who was looking forward to hitting the dance floor with her boyfriend, Brandon.

Layman added that she wanted to thank the Tim Tebow Foundation for its support.

“I love to be here with others, and I love Tim Tebow,” Turner said. “He’s a great man.”

Turner added that “God is full of love.”

Heather Counter lives in Waynesboro. She said she loves coming to Night to Shine.

“I think it’s really beautiful what people do for special needs [individuals],” said Counter.

She said she wanted to thank Cornerstone for hosting the event, and thank the Tim Tebow Foundation for sponsoring.

“Tonight is the best night ever, because it gives special needs [the opportunity] to witness what a real prom is like,” Counter said.

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