By Heather Cameron
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
MyCityCare Taber’s 5th annual Night to Shine event will be held on Friday, February 9, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Parallel Church.
“The purpose of the event is to honour individuals with special needs in our community, giving them a special night designed completely for them to enjoy, making sure they know they are an important and valued part of our community,” said Kelly Fehr, MyCityCare Director and Healthy Heroes Director.
Fehr says that individuals with special needs and disabilities age 14 and older in Taber and the surrounding communities are invited to the event and everyone is encouraged to come dressed up where they will be greeted by a team of volunteers who are ready to host them throughout the evening. Many options await their arrival, Fehr says, and honoured guests can choose to get their hair/makeup done, they can get their shoes shined, there are crowns/tiaras if they wish to be crowned and professional photography on site.
Fehr says that once honoured guests are all ‘red carpet ready’ they go down a red carpet and have an ‘Oscars-like moment’ where community members clap and cheer their arrival to the party. After entering the main area, Fehr says, there is a live band, dinner and dancing to greet attendees, and a limo awaits outside for anyone who wants to take a drive around town, and the night concludes with printed photos for any honoured guests to take home.
Even COVID didn’t stop the event, Fehr says, even though they had to pivot during it and do a ‘Party in a Box’ – a box filled with goodies delivered to honoured guests’ homes in which they could celebrate safely with their cohorts. The year after COVID when there were still restrictions, MyCityCare did a by appointment event where the cohorts could come and enjoy a dance, games and other activities.
This year, Fehr says, will be the third year that the full event gets to happen in Taber, but Night to Shine is an event held in 56 countries and over 1,000 communities worldwide.
“It was founded in 2014 by the Tim Tebow Foundation,” said Fehr. “MyCityCare has had the honour of partnering with the Tim Tebow Foundation to bring Night to Shine to many communities across southern Alberta including Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Brooks, Okotoks and Claresholm.”
Community response for the event, Fehr says, has been amazing, as it averages approximately 75-100 volunteers for the evening and has had Taber’s own Ransom Note Music bring the live music every year. This year, Fehr says, as MyCityCare Taber has many new community volunteers joining them for the evening, from hairdressers to makeup artists to police officers. The evening promises to be an incredible night.
Fehr says that if others want to get involved in this year’s Night to Shine event, they can sign up to volunteer for the actual event, as there are many different areas to volunteer throughout the evening. To register as a volunteer, Fehr says, visit MyCityCare Taber’s Facebook page or email email@example.com. Fehr says that MyCityCare Taber is also looking for sponsors for Night to Shine, both individuals and businesses, as sponsors would help cover the cost of the event, and would be recognized at the event as well as on MyCityCare’s social media. Those who are interested in being a sponsor, Fehr says, can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Night to Shine has always been one of our favourite nights of the year. It is incredibly rewarding to get to know amazing members of our community and build relationships with them. The joy and delight on their faces throughout the night is a priceless gift to anyone who attends,” said Fehr. “People with disabilities add so much value and unique perspectives to our community. These individuals want to be involved and want to contribute to the needs of our community. They have purpose and deserve to be celebrated. In Taber, the Taber Special Needs community is incredibly involved in many areas around Taber with the Beary Patch and volunteering for different organizations like the Smile Cookie Campaign; it is really great to see.”