The Night to Shine prom event for people with special needs left a mark on me.
I volunteered for the event that was held at the Estacada First Baptist Church on Feb. 7. At the beginning of the night, I helped with registration at the front of the building.
The "VIPs," as we called the guests, entered through the front doors of the church and waited to be checked in. Each of them was given a "buddy," a volunteer who would stay with them the entire evening.
As they came in, old friends greeted one another with loving embra-
ces and huge smiles, excitement in their eyes. The names of the VIPs were announced individually amid applause as they entered the sanctuary and walked down the "red carpet."
Once everyone had gathered in the gym, every VIP was crowned king or queen of the prom. The event focused on honoring people with special needs, who often are overlooked, treated poorly, or even aborted before they enter the world.
I walked into the gym after registration was over, and I saw a young girl with curly black hair moving to the music in her wheelchair. She reached out to a volunteer, wanting him to dance with her. They were bouncing along to the music, having a great time.
The girl had no hands or feet. But she had a wide smile on her face, hamming it up for the camera. "She was laughing most of the night," the volunteer told me later.
As I watched, I was struck by this girl, who was so full of joy and wonder. I had been nervous about my upcoming student loan payments, fretting about my future and dissatisfied with my current life. But this girl was severely limited in what she could do. She couldn't play guitar, hike or run. Yet there she was, having the night of her life. Enjoying it to the full extent.
I was convicted. Who am I to complain? What do I have that's worth complaining about?
That little girl was overflowing with contentment. I was striving so hard to get what I didn't have that I forgot about what I did. She reminded me that joy doesn't depend on one's circumstances. Happiness is fleeting. But joy is what that little girl had.
I want her joy.
Lily Shaver is a recent graduate of Corban University. She lives in Eagle Creek.
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