Professional athletes in the United States have been admired by the public for many, many years, but not all of them have been the best role models. One particular athlete the caught the nation’s attention in the mid 2000’s was Tim Tebow, a quarterback with the University of Florida that won two National Championships with the Gators, winning the 2007 Heisman Trophy for the nation’s most outstanding college player along the way. He earned the love of many fans, especially one fan in particular.
Tebow became an icon not only for his play, but his humanitarian work, as well as his religious views. A devout Christian, Tebow had a large fanbase of those with the same faith. Although he had his detractors, Tebow always kept his head up and maintained his role model status, playing his final NFL game in 2012 with the New York Jets before offseason squad duties with the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles.
Over the past year, Tebow has been trying to break back into professional sports, this time in the world of baseball. As a Minor League player for the New York Mets, Tebow is working his way back to the top, and a lot of people are paying attention to his development as a baseball player. Through his career’s ups and downs, Tebow has focused on helping people away from sports.
Tebow’s philanthropic efforts date back to his college days where he created a charity called First and 15 that helped raise money for an orphanage in the Philippines. It was the same country where Tebow was also born since his parents were missionaries in the country, and he has since built a hospital there as part of his efforts. The hospital for children was built in 2011, and dubbed The Tebow CURE Hospital in Davao City.
Upon entering the NFL as a first round selection of the Denver Broncos, Tebow was able to start earning millions, and gave much of it back to charity. In Gainesville, Florida where Tebow played college ball, he started the Tim Tebow Foundation that has made great strides in the area to the point where Florida’s Governor gave Tebow the title of Great Floridian. In 2015, the Tim Tebow Foundation made a very grand announcement that made positive headlines in a world that needed it.
Tebow announced that the foundation had been working on delivering a prom night for those with disabilities that might not be able to make it to their school’s prom. The evening was called Night to Shine, and the first year of the program held more than 40 proms at once for more than 7,000 youngsters at churches both in the United States and abroad. The next year was even more remarkable as Tebow was able to get more than 200 locations at once with more than 30,000 guests.
Valentine’s weekend of 2017 was the biggest hit yet, as Tebow aimed at holding 375 different locations for Night to Shine. Tebow told the press that “It’s more than a prom. These are people who need to know that they matter. They matter to other people. They matter to God.” The 2017 event was held in nearly a dozen countries thanks to the Tim Tebow Foundation and corporate sponsors, with Tebow showing up to some of the event himself. “It is so awesome to see what happens when churches around the world set aside their individual banners and names to do what I believe the church was called to do, which is simply love God and love people,” Tebow said.
One particular event goer that Tebow inspired was Judy Adams, an 18 year old that was born with Down’s syndrome, and created a charity of her own. Adams created the foundation Dimes for Downs as a child back in 2011, and has raised more than half a million dollars so far. Like every person, Adams wanted to meet her hero in person, and sent out a special invite to Tebow for the 2017 Night to Shine.
As Tebow was balancing his baseball career and trying to make as many appearances during the night at the same time, he wasn’t able to make it to the prom where Adams was attending. While some athletes might have let the invitation go by the wayside and simply forget about it, Tebow made sure to deliver a response to Adams’s invite, and he did it in a very memorable way in front of a large audience.
Without Adams’s mother knowing, Tebow contacted her mother to let her know that he would be appearing on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” in May 2017. Tebow was scheduled to appear as a guest to promote his new book, and was able to get Adams’s family to come to the show’s taping, with her mother telling the family that she happened to get tickets by chance in a contest. However, it was Tebow that personally hooked her up with the tickets.
With her hero finally right before her eyes being interviewed by Jimmy Fallon, Adams was absolutely starstruck. The secret had been a success, as she didn’t even know Tebow was scheduled to be on that night’s show. During the course of the interview, Fallon asked Tebow about the Night to Shine event, and the athlete revealed that he had never gone to prom while he was in school.
That’s when Fallon handed Tebow a corsage, asking Tebow if he had ever handed one out to a date. Tebow said that he had someone in mind that he’d like to give the corsage to, turning his attention to the audience to point out Adams. Tebow apologized about not being able to make the Night to Shine event that she was attending, but made it up to her in a big way on national television.
Tebow said that Adams was an inspiration to him, and surprised her in the most heartwarming way when he asked her to come on stage for a dance. Completely stunned by the turn of events, Adams was quick to get to the stage. She was in shock that all of this was happening, especially with millions watching around the world. What happened next made the tears start flowing.
With the lights dimmed down and The Roots playing behind them, Tebow and Adams slow danced across the stage. Adams’s mother was in attendance, and couldn’t contain her joy as she was brought to tears by Tebow’s kindness. The night was just beginning for Adams, too, as Tebow had a little more planned on “The Tonight Show” set.
Not only did Adams get to meet her hero, but she also met celebrities like Jimmy Fallon and Kerry Washington behind the scenes. Tebow also delivered an autographed copy of his book “Shaken: Fighting to Stand Strong No Matter What Comes Your Way”. It was all Adams could ask for Tebow was happy to deliver. Within days, Tebow made a day great for another child with special needs.
At a baseball game in June, Tebow was being hounded by fans for his autograph, but made a beeline to one girl in particular with Down’s syndrome. With her Tebow poster in hand, the athlete signed it before getting to anybody else, writing Night to Shine below his name, which is the event that got Adams started in her charity endeavors in the first place. Needless to say, whether you love him or hate him, Tebow is certainly a man of the people with a huge heart.