Prom Night Reservations Being Made Now for February 10, 2017 in All 50 States.
Between professional baseball tryouts, broadcasting and his foundation it’s a wonder how Tim Tebow finds time to sleep! The former Florida Gator quarterback is changing lives around the globe and in a few weeks his foundation will host one of their largest events to date. The “Night to Shine Prom” will take place at hundreds of churches in all 50 states simultaneously on February 10, 2017. Night to Shine was started two years ago as a magical evening for anyone over 14 years old with special needs.
Every guest who attends the “Night to Shine Prom” enters on a red carpet surrounded by fans and paparazzi. Once inside guests receive the royal treatment including hair and makeup stations, shoe shining, complimentary flowers, a catered dinner and of course a dance floor. When the night is over, all of the attendees will depart with prom party favors and a crown or tiara, as everyone in attendance is crowned either a king or queen.
As sponsor of Night to Shine, the Tim Tebow Foundation will provide each host church with an official planning manual, prom kit complete with decorations and gifts, as well as guidance and support. The foundation is also providing financial support to hundreds of churches needing assistance in hosting the event.
The Tim Tebow Foundation is also impacting lives around the world through their adoption programs and medical facilities. Two other popular initiatives are the “Team Tebow” outreach which has over 20,000 children committed to serving others within their community, and the “W15H” foundation for children with life threatening illnesses.
Melissa is a smart young woman who recently graduated from the STRIVE program where she learned life skills and how to be independent. The 22-year-old from Crystal Lake, Illinois, loves listening to music and helping others. She enjoys swimming and spending time with her family. But unlike other 22-year-olds, Melissa has overcome huge setbacks. Melissa is hoping to raise funds for a wheelchair accessible vehicle with help from our MobilityWorks store in Villa Park, Illinois.
Melissa Gets a Diagnosis
“There are many things that I would like to do and be part of but my ability to get around has been limited due to my ailments which include Type 2 Diabetes, Autism, Brittle Bones [Osteopenia] and Dystonia,” Melissa said.
“Dystonia was mentioned as a potential diagnosis in 2012, but I wasn’t officially diagnosed with it until December 2013,” Melissa said. “I kept falling a lot and would injure my wrist or ankle, or sometimes both. They would bruise and swell up and it was very painful so the orthopedic doctor I saw would usually put a cast on to make me feel better. Sometimes the x-rays would show there was actually a broken bone. I started to see a neurologist who ordered some tests and I was diagnosed with a form of dystonia. Dystonia is a progressive neuromuscular disorder that can resemble Multiple Sclerosis, ALS and cerebral palsy. There is really no cure but doctors treat the symptoms as they come up.”
Because Melissa has mobility challenges and she falls often, she uses a power wheelchair most of the time. She also sometimes uses her manual wheelchair and walker, but her muscles can be spastic. In addition to her muscular challenges, she has to be careful with what she eats due to her Diabetes. Between medication, blood sugar checks and other difficulties Melissa can become stressed out easily. She does her best to focus on the positives from her Northern Illinois Special Recreation Association[NISRA] Special Olympics team to being with her 19-year-old sister Rebecca and 18-year-old brother Adam.
The Family Faces Challenges
“My family’s lives have been turned upside down since my diagnosis,” Melissa said. “I went from running on the track team to being in a wheelchair in 2 years.”
Melissa’s mom, despite suffering from a brain aneurysm, has spent lots of time taking her to doctor appointments and researching care. Melissa’s mom had to retire from being a nurse and has a damaged back from years of lifting, so getting Melissa into a traditional vehicle is difficult.
“My siblings have suffered as they have cancelled plans to stay home to help me because my mom was sick in the hospital and my dad was working,” Melissa said. “My dad worked hard for years to provide good health insurance for the family. My dad recently lost his job and our health insurance. We cannot get unemployment benefits so right now we have social security and my mom’s disability. Medical equipment, prescriptions and care is very expensive. Everyone in my family has sacrificed a lot to keep me going. We are a close knit family and we stick together.”
Melissa’s family is currently renting their home so they cannot make structural changes. Each night, Melissa is forced to crawl up the stairs to get to her bedroom which is tiring. Luckily, some kind neighbors built a wheelchair ramp outside their front door last year.
Melissa Spreads Awareness
“Another challenge is getting people to understand and accept others with differences that can be seen and unseen,” Melissa said.
Melissa uses this message with Team Melissa, an effort for inclusiveness for all.
“Team Melissa was a fundraising effort that we did with the help of 3ELove, a company founded by a young lady in a wheelchair who wanted to promote acceptance of people with disabilities,” Melissa said. “She passed away unexpectedly so her brother took over the company. Each January, we celebrate the International Day of Acceptance of people with disabilities.”
Melissa enjoys working with 3ELove and many other great nonprofits including Autism Speaks and NISRA. Her biggest goal is to improve how families access support.
“Everything we have learned is by word of mouth from others or what my mom has researched,” Melissa said. “We don’t have the financial means for a vehicle and some people lack medical care. We seem to have fallen through the cracks of society where we don’t qualify for many programs. I would like to promote widespread acceptance of disabilities and differences.”
Hoping for Accessibility
“My power chair currently stays home when I go out because my parents’ cars do not have lifts,” Melissa said. “Since my dad lost his job, we cannot even consider a used wheelchair van. My manual wheelchair is heavy and my mom is not supposed to lift it as there is a risk of her having a seizure and injuring herself further. The public transportation is unreliable and only available at certain times. They are closed on weekends as well. If I had a wheelchair van, I could get to doctor appointments easier and volunteer at several places.”
You can help Melissa by donating to her GoFundMe page or to any other worthy nonprofit organization. Melissa said that even if her family does not get a wheelchair van, any donation counts towards medical bills and rent. Melissa offers even more ideas if you can’t donate to her page.
“You can pay it forward, volunteer with the disabled or make a meal for someone down on their luck,” Melissa said. “There are so many things that can be done and if everyone volunteered a little bit the world would be a better place and people would feel better about themselves.”
The MobilityWorks Foundation is proud to announce that we have partnered with Special Kids Fund, a unique children’s charity alliance caring for developmentally disabled children and at-risk youth. We are excited to help as the nonprofit brings mobility to children of families in need in their nationwide wheelchair van donation program.
The Special Kids’ van assistance program began in 2006 and since then, the organization has received thousands of requests for accessible vehicles. The nonprofit has celebrity endorsements from Jason Alexander, better known as George from Seinfeld, and co-founder of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Jerry Greenfield.
If you are interested in donating an accessible vehicle you may reach Special Kids Fund by phone at (732) 397-5056 or email DonateVan@specialkidsfund.orgThese donations are completely tax deductible, and they will accept almost any van, even if it needs a little tender love and care. To learn more about their efforts click here.
August is recognized as National Spinal Muscular Atrophy Awareness Month throughout the country.
Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is the leading genetic cause of death in babies under the age of two. It affects families of all ethnicities, often with no prior history of the disease.
Newborns with SMA appear healthy, but over time a lack of muscular development becomes evident. While intellectual development remains normal, muscle weakness often leads to respiratory failure and general debilitation. There are three types of SMA, each with varying degrees of severity and limited treatment options.
SMA Awareness Month strives to raise awareness of the condition, as well as to raise money to fund further awareness and research efforts.
For more information on SMA, or to find a local SMA Awareness event in your area, visit the Cure SMA website.
Aaron Guillemette has owned the Up in Flames Tattoo Shop in Twin Falls, Massachusetts for 16 years. Recently though, a young lady helped give him a brand new appreciation for his art and talent when he was asked by 8-year-old Hope Laliberte to “tattoo” her leg braces!
Hope was born prematurely and has dealt with the medical challenges of cerebral palsy, blindness and a rare form of epilepsy since her birth at 24 weeks.
While her twin sister, Paige, has experienced very few health issues, Hope has had to eat a specialized diet to control her epilepsy and wear leg braces. So, when her daughter wanted special designs on her new set of braces, her parents set out to make that wish a reality.
Clinics do offer braces with designs on them. However, Hope was looking for something different. She wanted Disney villains—rather than princesses— on her braces.
Guillemette and his team tried various ways to get the artwork – which features the Little Mermaid’s Ursula and 101 Dalmatians villain Cruella de Vil – to adhere to the braces without coming off. Eventually, Guillemette’s designs were turned into labels, which were adhered to the plastic brace material and covered with polyurethane to keep them from scraping off.
Hope is absolutely thrilled with the result. Typically somewhat of a shy girl, she ran to Aaron and gave him a hug when she saw the braces. She loves wearing her braces now too!
Guillemette’s daughter is a classmate of Hope’s, so for him, designing the braces for a young lady with such strength and determination was something he was overjoyed to do.
Hope’s story has even garnered the attention of celebrities like Ashton Kutcher and Lil’ Wayne who have shared her story on social media, calling the braces “dope” and saying, “every kid deserves to feel awesome.”