Special Friends Enjoy a Special Evening
By Bella FornutoBerry College Student Athlete
Hunter and I met in the Friend’s Club, a program promoting inclusion for the special needs community at E.T. Booth Middle School, when we were both in eighth grade. We immediately hit it off, and we have been buds ever since.
When I first found out about Night to Shine last year, I knew we had to go. Hunter has been known to dominate the dance floor and Night to Shine is no exception. Once the music starts, there is no getting him to do anything else but dance – not even the allure of karaoke, shoe shine, dinner or a limousine ride. His moves are one of a kind and always include other people. I’ve never seen him happier than when he is tearing up that dance floor. He attracts so much attention, I truly believe we were the most photographed couple of the night. But not only does this incredible event bring lots of joy to my good friend Hunter, but to me as well. I genuinely feel like I am on a date with the most popular guy at the prom. One thing I learned in the eight years of knowing Hunter is that he loves everybody and the feeling is mutual. Introduce yourself once and you are a friend for life!
I am so thankful for a community that loves our special needs friends so well. It did my heart so much good to see high school football players dancing and singing their hearts out with their special needs peers. I hope that this community seen at Night to Shine is something that can live on past the night of the event in the places we live, learn, and play.
Special thanks to Bella’s mom Beth Fornuto for sharing pictures from the evening. Night to Shine, sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation, is a prom night experience for people with special needs ages 14 and older. The worldwide movement involved more than 150,000 volunteers in 375-plus churches around the world, serving 75,000 in 2017. First Baptist Woodstock was an event site in 2016 and this year. For more information, visit www.timtebowfoundation.org.