"It's my favorite day of the year," former quarterback Tim Tebow tells PEOPLE
Tim Tebow is trying to redefine Valentine’s Day.
Last year, the former NFL quarterback – and current SEC Network analyst – created a special prom night for thousands of people with disabilities.
During Valentine’s Day weekend of 2015, the Tim Tebow Foundation sponsored 44 simultaneous prom events in 26 states, as well as two locations in Uganda and Kenya. More than 7,000 people with special needs dressed in tuxes and gowns for their first prom experiences. More than 15,000 volunteers made the events happen around the globe. At the end of the night, each of the participants was crowned as a king or queen of the night.
Tebow got into the act, flying to two locations and surprising the participants by taking photos with them and shining their shoes.
This year, he’s upping the ante.
For 2016, the foundation has confirmed more than 200 proms in 48 states and 8 different countries. (There’s a map in Tebow’s office that has a pin in each city where a prom will be held. We’re not pointing any fingers at the two states that are missing, but Vermont and Delaware had better get on the ball.)
Guests will arrive on a red carpet that includes photographers. (Tebow calls them “friendly paparazzi.”) Once inside, guests can get their corsages and boutonnieres, visit hair and makeup stations, and participate in a karaoke room.
And yes, there will be dancing.
To make it all happen, the Tim Tebow Foundation provides each prom with financial support, decorations and gifts for each participants, and step-by-step guidance to make the prom a success.
Tebow is thrilled about the event’s 450% increase since last year. “Every time I think about it, I’m so humbled and amazed by the way God has continued to grow Night to Shine,” he tells PEOPLE. “I can’t wait for February 12th; it’s my favorite night of the year.”
“We hope that the movement of Night to Shine not only transforms the way we think about Valentine’s Day, but also launches or enhances ongoing special needs ministries within churches around the world,” adds Erik Dellenback, the executive director of the Tim Tebow Foundation. ‘And provides a place where our honored guests can be celebrated and loved throughout the year.”
While most of the proms are held in churches, the events are open to all people with special needs, regardless of their faith. To find a prom near you – or to volunteer to help out – check out the Night to Shine website.
For the 28-year-old Tebow, Night to Shine represents a plan that he’s had since he was young. “When I was 15 years old, I began to realize the importance of fighting for people who can’t fight for themselves,” he tells PEOPLE. “As a foundation, we are so passionate about people with special needs, and this event is a great time to tell them how much they are loved by God and by all of us.”