Last Friday, Christopher and I volunteered at Night to Shine.

I spent weeks deliberating and second-guessing my outfit. Christopher hadn’t tried on his suit nor did he have a bowtie until the day before and he wasn’t concerned about it one bit. I was on the bowtie search committee. Other than no pink or brown, I had no guidelines which wasn’t helpful. I went to a local store that sells suits, ties, and the most bejeweled and embroidered men’s shoes and belts you’ve ever seen. Everything in there was bright, bold and the place of Dolly Parton’s dreams. It was outside anything Christopher would wear but I loved it. I refrained from getting him a bowtie with a crown or rose pinned to the middle. It would have fit the occasion but he’d never have worn it.

It’s not an exaggeration that it took me two hours to do my hair that day. I straightened it with the round brush but it looked too flat, so I added curls with the curling iron. My hair doesn’t hold fake curls well so they all went limp. That required me to use the straightener to fix that problem. School should have been canceled for the day so I could fully devote my attention to my hair issues. I couldn’t properly focus when I had to be answering questions about the Revolutionary War simultaneously. NTS was hosted by the church associated with Annabelle’s school and held on the school/church property. The students helped fill the guest’s gift bags and were involved as much as they could leading up to the big night. Sesame had also gone to volunteer training with us so she was well aware of what the event was (a prom for those with special needs). Every time I sighed or made a complaint about my hair, she’d said, “You know, Mom, it’s not about you. It’s about them and making them feel special.” She wasn’t wrong, but I also wanted my hair to look good! After all that work, my job was partly outside in the rain and my hair got messed up anyway. Pride goeth before a bad hair day.

Christopher was part of the shoe-shining crew. I didn’t get to see him in action, but a picture of his hands polishing a man’s shoes made it to the big recap video so apparently he made an impression. I wasn’t sure he’d make it at all. We had 227 registered VIP’s and you know who wasn’t one of those guests? Christopher’s shingles. That’s right. The week that we have a Big Event, his body said, “LOL. JK! Let’s throw a wrench in your plans and give you a disease for which there is no medicine unless you take it within 18 minutes of the onset of symptoms.” It was touch and go for a while there, but he pulled himself up by his suspenders and polished away.

I was on the red carpet. Of course, I was. Was there ever a more perfect spot for me and my rose gold sequined shoes? I was delighted the whole entire night.

After the men got their shoes shined and the ladies had their hair and makeup done, they rode in limos around the church and were announced to the crowd before walking the red carpet. We clapped and cheered like they were stars. My friend’s daughter and I waved our blue pompoms and cheered until we were hoarse. Many of those people had never been celebrated at all, let alone with an entire night catered to their special requirements, and it was so touching to see them respond. One man had so much fun in the limo they drove him around four times. Another man liked the attention of walking the carpet and asked to do it several times. Each time we cheered like it was his first time and his face lit up.

After the red carpet, the guests went to activities and games, the dance floor and karaoke, a meal and their crowning. All the men were given crowns and the girl’s tiaras. Night to Shine says “All kings, all queens, all loved by God” so they try to make everyone feel special, loved and included regardless of their capabilities.

We couldn’t stay for the whole event because of space and security reasons, but I’m so glad we got to be involved in a small way. It wasn’t much of an effort on our part but it made a huge difference for them.

Plus I got to wear sparkly rose gold shoes and I don’t care what AB says. I did that for me.