On a lighter note, my husband, son and I had the joy of hanging out with hundreds of other Florida Gators at the Downtown at Palm Beach Gardens this past Saturday.
Tim Tebow was in town on behalf of his Foundation and in exchange for a fee you could get a personal autograph and/or photo with him. $160 for autograph and $75 for a photo, some package deals available as well. At first this seemed to be quite the stiff fee but then when I thought about it, I told my husband it probably would be a worthy cause and we’d have a fun photo in our family lore.
Initially I sent my husband and son T.A. to go get the ticket and planned that they would go together for the photo. Once Saturday came around, however, I started to feel my Gator orange and blue pulse and wanted to be a part of it!
Our photo group ticket was scheduled for around 3pm, but when we arrived at the open court area we sensed that it may be a while longer.
It was a sight akin to a small carnival: there were tents with tables representing various local businesses, games and activities like a bounce house for the kids, guys walking around making balloon animals and orange and blue laden folks everywhere as far as the eye could reach in a 360 degree area.
We approached the line of being “on deck” waiting and found out that they were still working through the autograph groups (they were before the photographs). Judging by the group number (3) for autographs and acknowledging that we were group 6 of photographs, we took T.A. and sought out the bounce house by A Latte Fun.
While helping our son mitigate the most adult-type of waiting time, we got to chat with other fellow Gators. We began to hear all the stories that were already unfolding from events earlier that day. There was evidently a Gator Walk where Tim Tebow walked for the Foundation along with other Gators and he was careful to make sure he greeted everyone in the group. Those who had received autographs already were more than happy to wait for the photograph they also purchased because it meant sealing a great experience that had begun with a most personal autograph session.
The refrain we kept hearing was that Tebow was the “real deal”, he genuinely gave his attention individually to everyone, he helped people onstage, he had a great sense of humor as he gladly participated in fun poses with some people like doing a Heisman pose or faking a football move.
One story that made a national cable news hit this past Monday was about a guy who gave Tebow his engagement ring (which Tebow held for a good 45 minutes before the guy and his girl arrived at the head of the line). When the couple approached, Tebow literally pulled out the ring box and opened it in front of them. The girl dropped her mouth as her boyfriend dropped to his knee and proposed to her in front of Tebow. Of all the shouts and whoos we heard that day, it was the loudest feedback from the crowd when this couple and their engagement was performed in front of Tebow. The jokes were consistent afterwards that they should have just had Tebow preside as minister for an impromptu wedding ceremony while they were at it!
It was nearly 7pm by the time our photo group finally was ready to be seen for a photograph with Tebow. Mind you, the event itself was supposed to last from 1-5pm that Saturday. Thankfully, Tebow was determined to honor all tickets and even though you could tell he was getting a little tired, he had hardly taken any breaks during the day-he is a strong football player and could see a prolonged autograph/photo session through.
Our son T.A. was also a trooper. We’d exhausted all the kid activities, most tents were now gone, the kitchen store Sur La Table had witnessed our presence multiple times (I bought some measuring cups on sale to at least say thanks for tolerating my pot and pan fanatic son), we’d treated him to some chamomile tea and even ice cream. We’d continued to show him the lines, the stage where the action was at and every time we mentioned Tim Tebow, he’d point to the football posters abounding in that area and say “boom!” while pushing his hands forward in an almost tackling motion.
We made it to the front finally and Tebow warmly greeted us. I had brought my Gator cross-country and track gear and greeted him as a fellow jock. T.A was placed next to him in my arms and we had a couple of photos taken. We noticed that the photographer was very nice and attentive to our son which we appreciated as we knew this guy had the longest day of work going on as well. We shook hands with Tebow again and congratulated him, I thanked him for being a great Christian witness and he was very humble in his gracious response.
Yes, Tim Tebow is the real deal. We wish him the best in all his endeavors, whether they be football, people, family and life in general.