Every person deserves a night to shine. This is the mission of the Tim Tebow Foundation, which throws proms around the world for people with special needs every year. For the first time, this special event came to Rome, where alumnus Fr. Michael Baggot, LC (’07), was on hand as the master of ceremonies — an experience he called “beautiful” and joyful.
Fr. Baggot, who is currently a professor of bioethics at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum and an adjunct professor for Christendom’s Semester in Rome, first worked in the Eternal City as the residence director for Christendom’s Semester in Rome in 2007, following his graduation that same year. That role helped develop his love for Rome, which he eventually returned to in 2012 in order to begin studies for his licentiate degree. Since then, Fr. Baggot has been ordained, served as a tour guide for the Vatican Museums and become a professor — all experiences that helped make him a perfect candidate to help host the “Night to Shine” event in Rome.
Started in 2014 by former professional football player Tim Tebow, the Night to Shine events were created in order to provide people with special needs an unforgettable night, centered on God’s love. Across the world, Night to Shine events are held each year for people with special needs ages 14 and older, with over 100,000 guests honored.
When the European University of Rome was selected as the next place to host a Night to Shine event, a friend of Fr. Baggot’s from EWTN suggested him as a great resource. Soon enough, the U.S. organizer not only asked for assistance with finding volunteers but further proposed that Fr. Baggot should be the MC, since he could speak to the crowds in both English and Italian. Fr. Baggot graciously accepted the invitation.
“I thank God for the Night to Shine held at the European University of Rome,” said. Fr. Baggot. “I was blessed to see the joy of our special needs guests of honor who were each crowned kings and queens of the prom. As MC, I was privileged to introduce Tim Tebow to share his message of love for life.”
From the providing of suits and formal gowns for every guest, to limousines, to a walk down a red carpet, every detail of the event was specifically chosen to highlight every person’s dignity as a child of God. According to Fr. Baggot, Tebow delivered a rousing address to all the participants, insisting “that each participant is valued and loved by their Creator and by all of those present at the event.”
Following all the festivities, Fr. Baggot gave the Tebows and Foundation staff a tour of the university’s Shroud of Turin exhibit, before concluding the evening with a dinner where they talked about faith, history, Rome, and the culture of life.
For Fr. Baggot, the evening was a reminder of the power of charity, and the good that can be caused in the world by ministries like Tebow’s. For himself, the evening was the chance to put his love of Christ — fostered during his time at Christendom — into practice in a unique way, bringing joy into the hearts of so many as a result.