KWU’s A Night to Shine
Written by Jameson Shaughnessy on February 20, 2020
Just this past weekend KWU had the honors of partnering with the United Methodist Church, and the Tim Tebow Foundation to present A Night to Shine inside the student activities center on campus. This event at its core is a yearly event that seeks to provide special needs students and community members with a prom night experience. This year marks the third time that Kansas Wesleyan University students have had the opportunity to volunteer with this event. Guests can choose to participate in many different activities such as having their shoes shined, getting their hair and makeup done, and getting their photographs taken. Each of these services is provided by a local business, for instance Blondell’s was in charge of the hair and makeup station. The catering to this event was provided by Sodexo, the campus food provider. Dinner was chicken tenders, hamburgers, and grilled chicken with a choice of salad or potato wedges. The event was organized by campus faculty such as Dr. Tricia Petak and Bryan Minnich. I was able to interview both Bryan and Petak while my buddy was off taking a limousine ride with his girlfriend. They both spoke very fondly of the event and its history. I also had the opportunity to speak to Angelica, a volunteer who had participated in A Night to Shine since its conception on campus three years ago. She was deeply affected by the decision to participate and began as a buddy before moving on to volunteering with the staff of the event.
So how did this year’s night to shine go? I was granted the opportunity to be a buddy for A Night to Shine, a job that is assigned to students who volunteer for this event. Duties of the buddy include but are not limited to, making guests of the event feel welcome on campus, making sure your buddy is aware of all opportunities available to them at A Night to Shine, and participating wholeheartedly in the dance with your buddy. I was paired up with a man who has an undisclosed disability. With him and his girlfriend we participated in karaoke, took a limousine ride, and got his shoes shined. It was a blast to be able to serve the needs of another by actively encouraging him to participate in all that the night had to offer.
A Night to Shine, is an experience that opens up volunteer’s eyes to the plights that are disabilities. Throughout the night I was exposed to people with autism, Down-Syndrome, and other such mental disabilities. I was given a newfound respect for those who’s lives are affected on a day to day basis by these disabilities. Unfortunately, due to my duties as a buddy I was unable to interview many other buddy couples. However, given the atmosphere of the event it was plain to see that it wasn’t just the guests who were enjoying themselves. All of the buddies actively participated in A Night to Shines Events with many of them taking the stage as karaoke singers next to their buddies, ridding in the limousine, and gorging themselves on the amazing food that was provided. This year’s A Night to Shine was clearly just that, with both guests and buddies having their chance in the spotlight and made to shine.