Just when you thought you could not read another story with hate, division and name-calling as the subject matter, one comes along that puts all that bad news into perspective and reminds us what this life we live is supposed to be about.

Friday night, Bethel Life Worship Center sponsored and oversaw its fifth Night to Shine.

The event provides a prom-night experience for people with special needs.

The special guests get dressed up in their best outfits and get a little help with makeup, hair and other preparations at the church.

Then, they – and this year there were almost 200 of them – get into limousines and head to Greenville High School.

Some bring a parent. Others have dates with special volunteers called buddies.

When they get there, they are escorted down a red carpet — a special welcome for their special night.

Their eyes sparkle. They laugh. They enjoy the attention. And, of course, they shine.

The evening is filled with fun activities, refreshments and all the stuff you would expect at such a grand event.

And, of course, there is dancing.

It is hard to tell who benefits the most from the evening.

The volunteers, and there are many of them, say that it is the best night ever.

They are awed by what their guests have overcome — and their attitude about the lives they are living.

We are awed, too, at how easy it is to forget sometimes that life is something to be lived and that happiness is about how you look at it.

These special guests can teach us a lot about both.

Night to Shine is about honoring people who live with joy, face challenges and improve the lives of everyone around them.

Those who work with them know the secret — and so, too, do the volunteers at Bethel Life and the Greenville community.

They live with joy and love.

And to see their faces and to read about their evening, it couldn’t have come at a better time.

We commend the volunteers, the donors who made the event possible and, most importantly, the guests who welcomed us with joy and kindness.

We should all be more like them.

And we could not write this message without sending a special note to the parents and families of these special people.

Being a guardian for a special needs child is a lifetime commitment. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and other family members devote hours and decades to taking care of them and making sure they will be OK in the future.

They do it with love, like all parents and families do, so most of them do not see anything special about the time and effort they put in.

But it is special — and they are, too.

So for the parents who watched with tears in their eyes as their special guy or girl enjoyed the evening just like any other prom-goer, congratulations. You are the reason they have the joy in their eyes and the smiles on their faces.

And for those who care for them, teach them and love them, our admiration, too.

You are heroes — and as we are sure you would like everyone to know — the lucky ones who get to spend time with this community’s best residents.

Night to Shine is about giving back.

And what a great way to remind ourselves about the joy that comes when we do just that — and open our hearts.

Well done, Bethel Life, and all of you who made this special night possible.

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