December4 , 2022

    What a ‘Night to Shine’


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    The last few weeks have been contentious, to say the least. Every time I turn on the television, I hear about crime, murder, riots, attacks, and our nation’s political scene has become very ugly.

    Angie and me holding our name badges

    I wrote an opinion piece for my local newspaper last week and received several hateful and rude comments regarding what I thought was the exercise of my First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

    I guess they did the same, but I chose not to threaten anyone or resort to profanity or name calling. I am above that.

    People can’t seem to even have a civil disagreement anymore.

    But in the middle of all the ugliness, a star shone brightly last Friday night when Angie and I volunteered at the Night to Shine event at Christ Temple Church in Huntington, W.V.

    We saw men and women give their time to a tremendous cause. They all rallied together, and it made us feel rejuvenated and restored our faith in mankind.

    At my post as a shoe shiner

    The prom for people with special needs was one of about 600 occurring at the same time across the United States.

    The Tim Tebow Foundation sponsors the event, and this was the fourth year the church played host.

    Angie and I were blown away and amazed by what we saw.

    About 450 volunteers were on hand to make sure the 250 guests and 200 parents were treated to an unforgettable night.

    For a few hours, they dressed up in their best and were treated like royalty. The ladies got their hair and makeup done by volunteers, and they got to choose stylish gowns and jewelry to wear.

    The men had their ties tied just right, and I saw to it that their shoes shined bright.

    I came here
    to help out, and
    I am getting more
    of a blessing
    by doing this
    than they are.”
    Bethany Copley, South Point, OHIO

    I wore my tuxedo, and Angie stood out in her beautiful black dress. But we were there to serve. Our job was not to just shine shoes but to also make all who stopped by feel important and have a memorable experience.

    For two-plus hours, I stooped, wiped, cleaned, and shined shoes. Some were covered in dirt, but when I put them back on the ground after three or four minutes of elbow grease, they sparkled. I knew the recipients felt pride when they left my room and walked the red carpet with their dates.

    It was my pleasure to do this.

    With event coordinator Anneliese Caserta

    I felt humility along with a sense of accomplishment, and I was also overcome with gratitude and thankfulness. Angie and I have two healthy sons and two amazing daughters-in-law. We enjoy a granddaughter who just turned five, and our grandson will make his appearance in May. We are blessed.

    The parents at this event were overjoyed when they saw the expressions on their son’s faces after I completed my task.

    But I could also see a look of exhaustion in some of their eyes camouflaged inside the brief smile. They are true champions for what they do every day to take care of their special children.

    While the dancing and dining were going on in the main ballroom, parents were treated to a meal and massages upstairs. They got a brief respite from their everyday lives.

    Event coordinator Anneliese Caserta thought of everything. She is Wonder Woman in my eyes. She organized hundreds of volunteers and walked around with a plastic box of snacks to keep herself going. She was spectacular and has a heart for giving.


    Night to Shine — photo by Emily Ferguson

    I was amazed at how well it all came off and how happy everyone appeared. Mounds of food were donated, there were limo rides for dates and a color guard who raised swords when the guests entered. The names of each couple were announced prior to their red carpet grand entrance, and paparazzi snapped pictures as family and volunteers applauded.


    People with special needs are indeed unique.

    One gentleman who came in to have his boots shined was able to calculate what day of the week people were born within seconds of hearing their birth dates.

    Angie talked with him and told him our sons’ birthdays. He whipped off that they were born on a Tuesday and Wednesday. He was right!

    I can’t do that. I have enough trouble remembering their birthday each year. He was beyond special and has an unusual gift.

    An attendee gets her hair and makeup done before the prom. Photo by Emily Ferguson.

    Each person who attended had a special date, a volunteer who gave of th