Quarterback Tim Tebow has become one of the most publicized figures in sports and while he’s been covered by outlets from People Magazine to NBC’s Saturday Night Live to Sports Illustrated, the aspect of the popularity that he appreciates most is the ability to positively affect the lives of others.
At every Broncos game throughout the 2011 season, Tebow has hosted an individual who has been fighting an illness or gone through personal adversity.
“I definitely think about the platform that I’ve been blessed with, but I think about it in a way of how can I make the most of this platform as far as giving back,” Tebow said. “That’s why my foundation is trying to do what we’re doing building a hospital in the Philippines and our Wish 15 program.”
Each week through the W15H program, Tebow brings families of those individuals who have fought medical hardships trips to Denver or the city that the Broncos are playing in. The trips include transportation, hotel and meals. Tebow meets with the participant, who is chosen through his foundation, before and sometimes after the game. The program provides the families with tickets to the game, pregame sideline passes, W15H luggage and gifts from Jockey and Nike. Tebow has even given participants his game-worn jersey from the games they’ve attended.
“I am always humbled and honored that there are children whose wish is to spend time with me,” Tebow said. “I always walk away confident that I am the one who was blessed to be around such strong and courageous children.”
This past weekend, the participant was Kelly Faughnan, who Tebow met before the 2009 College Football Award ceremonies and also hosted in Baltimore last season. Jeff Darlington of NFL.com wrote a story about Tebow’s interactions with Faughnan following the Broncos’ game against the Patriots.
“It puts things into perspective, honestly, for me,” Tebow said. “And it gets (Kelly) an opportunity to hopefully have a good time and give her a little hope and a smile on her face because ultimately that’s what is important. I know as hard as it is to say it, that is more important than even winning or losing the game because that is a girl that has had to deal with these tumors and cerebral palsy and seizures and all these things that she’s had to go through.”
Other participants in the program this season include Woody Roseland, a 21-year old Denver resident who battled cancer since the age of 16. Roseland attended Denver’s season opener against Oakland.
“I (was) so honored to have the chance to meet Woody,” Tebow said. “I am so encouraged by his strength and desire to bring faith, hope and love to others even in the midst of his challenges.”
Garrett Atwood visited with Tebow before his first start of the season. Atwood, a 16-year old Winter Springs (Fla.) High School student was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness known as Arteriovenous Malformation, a disease that affects the connections of the arteries and veins. Following his diagnosis, Atwood was hospitalized for two and a half months and endured several weeks of rehab just to learn how to walk and talk again.
Adam Hubbs, a 16-year old St. Louis resident visited Denver for the team’s comeback win against the Bears. He was diagnosed with a rare life-threatening blood disorder and has faced many medical battles, including being in a coma for five weeks and suffering a stroke that would paralyze the left side of his body.
In June of 2011, Hubbs was given the opportunity to meet Tebow in Orlando at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex. Together they played catch, enjoyed attractions, and played arcade games. Following their time together, Tebow invited him to be his special guest at a future Denver Broncos game.
“It was so great to spend time with Adam again,” Tebow said. “I am amazed by his strength, determination and positive attitude.”
This weekend in Buffalo, Tebow will visit with Jacob Rainey, a highly recruited high school quarterback in Virginia, who suffered an injury during a preseason scrimmage that required part of his leg to be amputated.
“Here is a kid who has been offered from several ACC schools who loses a leg, but here is an opportunity the day before Christmas to just talk to him or give him a little hope,” Tebow said of Rainey. “His teammates nicknamed him after me, so to be able to bring that kid in and just inspire him, ultimately that’s taking my platform and using it for something good.”