JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Dazzling Tim Tebow isn’t easy.
He was awarded the Heisman Trophy while winning two national championships at Florida.
The former Nease High phenom was a first-round pick in the NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. He continues to be covered relentlessly by the national media.
Tebow even received a sentimental gift from newly crowned Masters champion Bubba Watson Friday night prior to a gala at the TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse. Watson gave Tebow his player badge from last Sunday’s round, which randomly was the same number, 15, Tebow wears.
However, it was a gift received later in the night that had people talking during the second annual Tim Tebow Foundation Celebrity Golf Classic at the TPC Sawgrass Players Stadium Course on a gorgeous, yet windy Saturday.
A woman bid $100,000 in an auction to spend a day with Tebow, with the money going to help fund his foundation’s charitable works.
You read that right. One hundred thousand dollars.
“It was incredible,” Tebow said. “It’s humbling. You don’t feel worthy, but when people care about your cause and know that you’re trying to do something for other people, it’s amazing to see what can happen.”
The woman, who does not wish to be identified, and her family have a specific plan for their day with Tebow. Not surprisingly, it’s for a worthy cause.
“They live in a part of town that has a lot of people in need and a lot of people with a lot of wealth,” said Erik Dellenback, the executive director for the Tim Tebow Foundation.
“She felt that bringing Timmy to her town down there would maybe change the town. She cleared it with Timmy and it sounds like she’s going to have a little event where she brings some of the kids who are in need and some of the kids who are deserving.
“We’d prefer not to say who they are, but they have a place in the Keys, which is where he’s going to go.”
Tebow is looking forward to the event. The benefactor even offered to pay for his airfare for the trip in addition to the massive donation.
“It’ll be a lot of fun,” Tebow said. “She said it will happen whenever I have time. They’re a very special family as far as how they’ve supported the foundation.”
The two-day event was also highlighted by the fundraising efforts of 9-year-old Boomer Hornbeck, who suffers from cerebral palsy. Hornbeck saved his allowance and presented Tebow with $27 at the first golf event last year. Since then, Hornbeck has written letters seeking funds for Tebow’s foundation. On Friday night, he presented Tebow with $9,267. He spent Saturday riding with Tebow in his golf cart around the course.
“Boomer is a special kid,” Tebow said. “I have a special relationship with him. It was emotional [last night]. To be hanging out with him today was awesome.”
The event brought a close to quite a year for Tebow.
Since holding the inaugural event, Tebow led the Broncos to the AFC West title and a playoff victory in overtime over Pittsburgh. Denver was 1-4 when Tebow won the starting job from Kyle Orton. His reward was a trade that sent him to the New York Jets after the Broncos signed Peyton Manning.
Tebow’s popularity and fame has risen arguably the most of any athlete in the country over the past year, which is stunning considering he was hardly unknown.
“The year has definitely been special,” Tebow said. “Lots of ups and downs. Lots of special memories. Lots of incredible moments in my life and the lives of those around me. This was a great way to cap it off and start a new chapter in my life as a Jets football player. I’m looking forward to starting that training on Monday.”
He’ll be able to tell his teammates he reached the famed Island Green on the par-3 17th hole with his tee shot. Tebow also connected on a 14-foot birdie putt on the sixth hole.
One of his playing partners, Don Karnes, made a birdie putt on 10 and then was almost knocked to the ground on a celebratory chest bump from Tebow. The group consistently had roughly 100 fans following them, while other fans stationed themselves at holes to see the celebrity participants.
In addition to Watson, Olympic gold-medal skier Lindsey Vonn, Florida football coach Will Muschamp and former Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel were among those participating.