Volunteering at Night to Shine | Pittsburgh Photographer

February 20, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Night to Shine

Night to Shine, sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation, is an event designed to create an evening to remember for individuals with special needs.   

Night to Shine is described as an unforgettable prom night experience, centered on God’s love, for people with special needs ages 14 and older. Night to Shine

This event was celebrated in 537 churches on February 9, 2018 around the world. Approximately 90,000 honored guests experienced royal treatment through the support of 175,000 volunteers! 

It was my privilege to serve as a volunteer photographer at the Night to Shine in the South Hills of Pittsburgh at The Bible Chapel in Peters Township.

There were 330 guests and 640 volunteers at this venue alone. Night to Shine

Racks of donated gowns lined the halls of The Bible Chapel in the weeks leading up to the event. 

Local hair salons opened their doors and volunteered their time and talent to help prepare the guests for the event.  Night to Shine

Guests arrive with their family for registration and to be matched with a "buddy" for the evening.

Parents and caregivers gather in the respite area for dinner and a movie.

The evening began with pampering: make-up touch ups and shoe shines, a stop at the photo booth and a ride in a limo. Night to Shine

Guests exit the limo with their buddies and walk down the red carpet together, where they are greeted by "paparazzi"  and cheers.

Guests could chose the amount of energy at their entrance by choosing from three options: "energy," "quiet" or "no pictures."

My daughter volunteered on the red carpet as a member of the welcoming paparazzi crowd. She was amazed to see the red carpet transform to accommodate the preference of each guest. She said the room could be filled with high energy, high fives, and a guest dancing down the red carpet and seconds later the room was nearly silent with respectful smiles and mild applause.

Every guest is crowned king or queen.

Night to Shine

The evening activities included a dinner, karaoke, dancing and a video presentation from Tim Tebow.

I was one of several photographers documenting the night. During the course of the day, I visited two hair salons, covered the registration tables, buddy matches and finished the night in the karaoke room.

I was touched to see so many ecstatic guests throughout the day. Night to Shine

I asked many guests if I could take their picture and I was nearly always greeted with a huge smile that light up an entire face! 

I admire the extensive generosity that I saw throughout the day from the gorgeously decorated hair salons to enough delicious donated food to feed an army!  Night to Shine

Throughout the evening when I looked into the faces in the crowd I was greeted by smiling faces of the many volunteers and the guests as well!

I can tell you that it was truly a night to shine and that the guests and the volunteers alike had an evening that they will never forget! Night to Shine


Laura Mares is an experienced photographer specializing in capturing timeless family keepsakes. Laura works on location and in her fully equipped home studio, located in Mt. Lebanon, eight miles south of Pittsburgh, PA. Laura’s style is creative, natural, and timeless. Would you like beautiful portraits of your newborn baby, to update your child and family portraits or to document a milestone in your life such as a wedding, graduation, birthday or reunion? If you are interested in high quality, timeless photographs, book your session today, call (412) 654-3367 or email laura.mares@me.com. To view a wide range of gorgeous portraits and to get great tips, advice and beautiful inspiration follow along on Instagram and Facebook.


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