On Friday, Feb. 10, 375 churches from across the globe transformed their facilities into a red carpet experience, complete with limousines, hair and makeup stations, and flashing cameras as part of Night to Shine.
Sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation, Night to Shine is a memorable prom experience created for children with special needs ages 14 and older. This year, more than 75,000 guests of honor attended these special events held everywhere from Alaska to Albania.Stealing the show at one such event in Plano, Texas: Gillian Deans, a gleeful, affectionate 17-year-old who has never met a stranger. Born seven weeks premature, Gillian entered the world with a slew of health obstacles—including half of a brain, as well as diagnoses of epilepsy, chronic respiratory failure and anophthalmia (Gillian was born with one eye). Doctors warned Gillian’s parents that the chances of her surviving past her first birthday were slim—but Gillian had a different plan.
Proving the doctors wrong—even after being diagnosed with cerebral palsy at 4 years old—Gillian wasn’t going to let a diagnosis slow her down. Now in 10th grade, Gillian began receiving care from Epic Health Services, a provider of home health care services to medically fragile children, in 2008. Flash forward to current day: Gillian has recently been declared healthier than she has been in years, a breakthrough Gillian’s mother, Kimberly Deans, credits to the power of prayer and the strong partnership that exists between Gillian and her nurses at Epic.
Between posing for the cameras, dancing and showing off her hair and makeup styles, Gillian especially enjoyed being around the other kids with special needs since she loves to chat and hold their hands.
And that’s a message we can all learn from.