Five years ago, SKILDCenter hosted the first Night to Shine in the Middle East! What an incredible event! It was a glorious night…filled with balloons, cheers, smiles and presentations of each participant as a King or Queen! Each special King and Queen was celebrated through cheers as they walked the Red Carpet upon entering the event hallway! They received the royal treatment of having their hair styled and makeup provided by professionals who happily donated their time to honor these incredible guests! Introductions were given to standing applause as each special guest was presented by an escort as they walked down the stairs into the ballroom! The goal was to have everyone feel loved and valuable and to feel confident in who they were created to be! The smiles on all the faces as they danced, enjoyed delicious food, participated in games and interviews made all of us rejoice as we saw our goals being met through the outpouring of love from everyone involved!
I remember when we first began discussing the possibility of this event happening in Lebanon with The Tim Tebow Foundation and SKILD leadership. My church in America, Shandon Baptist in Columbia, South Carolina had sponsored our first Night to Shine the year before in 2018. It was honestly one of the most special events I have ever participated in and touched my heart greatly! At that time, I had been traveling often to Lebanon to help with educational initiatives with SKILD. I knew what a strong and passionate group of people worked within the center and how important the work of SKILD had become in Lebanon to elevate the need for educational and social opportunities for those with special needs.
With cooperation and encouragement from the Tim Tebow organization, my church agreed to help sponsor the first Night to Shine in the Middle East and sent four of us to come and help prepare and document the journey. Sharing the joy of sponsoring Night to Shine with Nabil Costa, the CEO of LSESD, and Hiba Al Jamal, the Director of SKILD, along with the strength of their staff who worked tirelessly to prepare all the details, share the invitations and work alongside of families and schools to provide transportation and logistics for all involved is beyond description. Many in the Lebanon society volunteered their time and expertise – hair stylists, photographers, interior designers, florists, cheerleaders…so many came and experienced the joy of helping to celebrate these special guests! The parents were also treated royally and enjoyed seeing their child highlighted and celebrated!
I am so proud of SKILD for their continued work in this important area in Lebanon. Every year, even during Covid when they delivered their crowns to their homes, SKILD created a way to celebrate these students through Night to Shine opportunities!
Thank you SKILD leadership, for believing in those in our lives with special needs and for doing the hard work every single day to help them be successful, loved and valued in life!
Night to Shine was like ‘icing on the cake’ for them…and for all of us who have been blessed to be a part of such a special night!
It was honestly one of the most special events I have ever participated in and touched my heart greatly! At that time