Shine On: An Online Resource for Families like Maureen’sMarch 4th, 2022
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The Tim Tebow Foundation’s Night to Shine is an annual worldwide prom experience for people with special needs. After years of celebrating people with disabilities, many families and churches expressed the deep need for community beyond one night a year. TTF was challenged by this need and in response, Shine On was created to inspire, equip, and encourage churches to embrace and offer belonging to families living with disabilities year-round.
Maureen, an event coordinator at a Night to Shine host church in Texas, shares her thoughts on having Shine On as a resource for families of a child with special needs:
Having been blessed with a daughter with special needs and three other wonderful children, we have had so many incredible journeys. Many of these journeys led us on paths that had not been established yet, and we felt like pioneers in many of them.
When I first started to bring our family to church, my special needs daughter was two years old. She loved being around other kids and socializing, she just did not know how to be with other “normal kids”. We were the first special needs child they had and they were not prepared to manage physically or mentally what she needed. Although they wanted to help, they just did not know where to begin.
The church had not opened the door yet. We decided to push through and so wanted our daughter to find a home at church and be with others that would impact her life. For the next twenty years of my daughter’s life, the church was a second home for her and a “safe place” and “happy place”. She was the first special needs child, but we now have a wonderful buddy ministry that serves so many families every weekend at church.
We would have loved to have had an app like Shine On that provides so many amazing tools to help a special needs ministry to get started. The emotional demand that a special needs child does on your marriage and the rest of the siblings is exhausting. Many nights, I can remember holding my special needs daughter’s siblings as they cried in my arms to try to understand why God made their sister so different. It was much harder on them, and many times siblings get lost in the family due to all the attention focused on the special needs child. The family resource on Shine On has been a blessing to address that need.
With Christ so centered in our family and God giving us the courage and strength to take on the challenges of a special needs child, we feel so incredibly honored to have had our daughter for 24 amazing years. We have always felt that our daughter’s legacy continues because of the joy she brought to so many others. She loved life and loved people.
With this amazing Shine On app and website, you will be reaching so many topics that we struggled with and needed support. The idea of not feeling alone and knowing also that other families with special needs children feel the same way as you do is such a huge gift. As moms, we want to feel equipped and ready for the challenges thrown our way as we raise our babies. Shine On is going to provide this to many communities, churches, and families.
Celebrating, honoring, and valuing those with special needs year-round is one of our key focus areas here at the Tim Tebow Foundation. It is our prayer that Shine On will continue to equip the global Church and families living with disabilities with innovative resources, training, and programs to eliminate barriers and cultivate life-giving.
You can become a part of a community that loves and serves families living with disability. Learn more about the Shine On ministry and download the Shine On app through this link.