WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. — Before you can dance at the prom, you’ve got to find the right outfit.

While he searched for the right attire, Nicholas Dester had a personal stylist in the form of him mom, Tammi. She made sure her son’s bow tie was just right.

What You Need To Know

  •  The Tim Tebow Foundation throws an annual prom for students with special needs.

  •  A Night to Shine will be held at venues all over the world on Feb. 10.

  •  Attendees got a chance to pick out dresses and ties before the dance.

Nicholas will be sporting this teal bow tie at a big event next month. It’s an event that former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow started in 2015. 

“For him to understand a night like this for kiddos like this and they don’t get invited to things like this or they feel uncomfortable at events like this is huge and I think speaks volumes for Tim Tebow,” Nicholas’ father Chris Dester said.

Tebow’s annual Night to Shine is a prom for people who sometimes get left out. For people who aren’t always included. For people with special needs, like Nicholas. This high school senior has autism and struggles with anxiety in social situations.  A Night to Shine gives him an opportunity to step outside his comfort zone.

“I’m excited to be able to see a lot of autistics and people that might not be autistic but still come in and show their support for this small group of people that can flourish into something more,” Nicholas said.

Nicholas’ parents have watched him flourish. He was nonverbal for a long time. But slowly, over the years, Nicholas became more and more comfortable in his own skin. And now it’s difficult to get him to stop talking.

“When we were pulling up here, Nicholas said he was super nervous and he was anxious, which is something he deals with a lot,” Chris said. “But almost like a Hollywood star coming out of their trailer, as soon as the door opened, he got the tie on and then boom, his persona comes out.”

That’s what this event does, it is all about inclusion.

“I think that’s probably the biggest thing, when the student walks away from an event like this that they just felt included,” Chris said.

Sponsors donate everything to the Night to Shine so attendees don’t have to pay for anything. That includes the ties for the guys. And the dresses for the girls. They get to pick from a wide variety of formal wear and then once they’ve decided, they say yes to the dress.

This was the party before the party. This was the dress rehearsal. In less than a month, these special needs youngsters will be made to feel extra special at Tebow’s prom. Hundreds of thousands of students with special needs will be celebrating their special qualities at various dances all over the world.

“I feel like a lot of people overlook autism and special needs in general,” Nicholas said “So when more people like Tim Tebow with such a high standing and like a value in the community everywhere, it kind of shows that maybe these people aren’t so bad.”