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Tebow-inspired Gala stresses hard work, humility (VIDEO)

As the little league baseball coach explained that the team should play for fun and not just to win, little Timmy Tebow responded, “But winning is fun.” Ever since he was a young boy, National Football League (NFL) quarterback Tim Tebow has had a competitive nature when it comes to sports. His dream of becoming a professional athlete pushed him to work hard and never settle for anything less than his best.

Tebow appeared as the keynote speaker at the first annual Inspire Gala held at the Fresno Convention Center, April 5. This event was a fundraiser aimed at providing funds for and raising awareness of the Buddy Program between Fresno Christian Schools and Break the Barriers (BTB).

Attendees were greeted by FC high school students as they walked in to a room filled with decorated tables, a stage and a boxed-off area in the middle of the room. People were also invited to take a picture on a red carpet by Tom Milne of Milne Photography, who was the only photographer allowed at the event, following their entrance. The doors to this event opened at 6 p.m., however people with VIP passes were invited to come at 5 p.m. for a special reception. This included a chance to meet and take a picture with Tebow.

Senior Brandon Porter enjoyed being an usher for the event, because he thought it was a good opportunity to represent FC and listen to a professional athlete.

“I wanted to volunteer because I thought it was cool that they wanted students to help out and thought it would be an awesome way to represent our school,” Porter said. “I didn’t get to see much of Tebow, but from what I did see he seems like an awesome servant of the Lord with a very humble heart. I loved hearing part of his story and his mission. I definitely like seeing the BTB kids perform for Tebow and seeing him give each one of them a high five; I could tell that it really meant a lot to those kids.”

The event was scheduled to start at 7 p.m., however Tebow’s flight to Fresno arrived late, bumping the start time to around 7:30 p.m. Superintendent Debbie Siebert started the event by welcoming attendees and briefly describing the purpose of the event. Two students from FC and two performers from BTB’s team, the Barrier Breakers, then led the audience in a prayer for the food as well as the entire event.

After the prayer there was a presentation of Alumnus Awards, meant to honor alumni of FC who have been successful with their careers and lives after their graduations from high school. These awards were given to Sam Hinton and Mayor of Fresno Ashley Swearengin. Slideshows filled with photos of these award-winners were shown as they accepted their awards. Each also gave a speech thanking FC for its impact on their lives and for recognizing them with these awards.

Partnership, foundations bring growth

Debbie Siebert and BTB Executive Director Deby Hergenrader then talked about the Buddy Program and how it started. This was accompanied by a video that featured students and teachers involved in the program, including seniors Brandon McCormick and Amy Savage.

Debbie Siebert is very pleased with the outcome of the event. She enjoyed seeing FC and BTB come together with Tim Tebow for such an inspirational event.

“The event was spectacular,” Siebert said. “Two small organizations partnering together to provide the Fresno community with an opportunity to come together and experience the power of unity and the pleasure of Godly living was awesome. We accomplished our goal of inspiring people to choose to live a life that has significance. It was wonderful to meet so many people who believe in both organizations and who supported us through their participation in the Gala. Everyone was moved by the Barrier Breaker’s performance and you could have heard a pin drop during Tim Tebow’s interview. It was amazing to be part of such a God-honoring evening.”

Though the event was a success, Siebert believes there is always room for improvement for next year’s event.

“Anytime you do something for the first time there are so many things you learn,” Siebert said. “We now know the list of tasks we can take care of far in advance so there will not be so much pressure up to the last minute. We met wonderful vendors who supported our cause by coming along side us and providing stellar services at cost or below and some even gave their services as a donation. We were truly blessed by the community.”

Siebert believes events like this have a powerful effect on the community because the success of the partnership between FC and BTB show how combining resources can result in large results.

“FCS and BTB have personally experienced the power that comes from choosing to partner together and pool resources,” Siebert said. “Understanding we are working together to further the Kingdom through our individual organizations but also empowering each other’s ministries through, our partnership is a testament to what can happen as more organizations choose to work together in this manner.”

The Barrier Breakers, BTB’s travelling performance team who recently visited FC, performed on the stage in the middle of the room. Their two separate dance numbers received a positive reaction from audience members, who responded with a standing ovation. As the crowd sat back down, the Barrier Breakers made their way to the right side of the front stage, where they had the opportunity to exchange hand shakes and hugs with Tebow.

Although BTB gymnastics teacher Michael Erotkmanm felt some nerves before the performance he was excited to be able to perform with his team in front of Tim Tebow and the rest of the audience. Erotkmanm also enjoyed Tebow’s speech, feeling it specifically applied to the many who were there, including himself.

“It was a lot of fun performing with my Break the Barriers team,” Erotkmanm said. “I was pretty nervous but excited at the same time. It was just a great experience. Tebow’s speech was amazing. He hit on certain points that really touched home with me and I’m sure for a lot of other people too. The overall experience was great. There was high energy running through the room the entire night.”

Tebow briefly went backstage after shaking hands with the Barrier Breakers while a short film about the Tim Tebow Foundation (TTF) played. This video highlighted the different outreaches that the TTF takes part in, including the W15H Program, Timmy’s Playroom, Tebow Cure Hospital, Orphan Care and Team Tebow.

Tebow speaks on past experiences

Tebow reappeared onstage following the completion of the video, and his interview began. Tebow was interviewed by Paul Loeffler, Sports Director for KMJ radio and local sports broadcaster for ABC Sports, who asked him questions about his childhood, sports career and faith. Some of the stories Tebow shared are also in his book, Through My Eyes.

Tebow spoke of the competitive nature that he has had ever since he was a kid. He grew up on a farm with four older siblings and parents who were equally competitive. Church was a weekly ordeal for the Tebow household, and Tebow’s mother made him memorize scripture as a young child. Tebow noted that many of the verses he learned as a child had to do with humility, which has helped him stay humble even during his growing fame as a professional athlete.

The interview was titled, “Living a Life of Significance: A Conversation with Tim Tebow.” Tebow aimed to explain just that: how to live a life of significance. Ever since he was a little boy, he had dreams of becoming an NFL player, but once he achieved that dream, he realized that just playing in the NFL would not lead to a fulfilling life. He decided he needed to use the resources he had through his career to help change the lives of others. That’s why Tebow decided to start the Tim Tebow Foundation.

While this foundation is made to help others, Tebow believes that it also serves to help himself stay humble and grounded in his faith in Christ. One of the outreaches of his foundation, the W15H Program, gives children with life-threatening illnesses the chance to meet Tebow. Tebow usually meets with these kids before a game and then the W15H recipients stay and watch him play. He noted that seeing kids with life-threatening illnesses makes football feel silly, but if he knows it will bring a smile to their faces, it’s worth it.

Attendees reflect on Tebow’s speech

Maddie Luginbill, ’16, attended the event with her family and friends, not only to see the BTB performance or hear Tebow’s speech but also to give the opening prayer for the night. Luginbill was asked by Siebert to give the prayer and accepted graciously.

“Mrs. {Debbie} Siebert and I were having a conversation and during it she just randomly asked me to do the prayer so I accepted,” Luginbill said. “I was nervous the night of, but I was really happy to do it. The night was really fun overall. Tebow’s speech was so great; I loved it. The Break the Barriers performance was incredible; it brought me to tears. The night was just great.”

Jill Boudreau, mother of senior Jordan Boudreau, thought the event went better than she expected. She enjoyed hearing Tebow’s message, especially after not knowing very much about the athlete before the event.

“I loved his message,” Boudreau said. “I was encouraged by how he spoke candidly of how he integrates his faith with his work. I resonated with the fact that he draws his identity by how he serves Christ. He puts more importance on using his fame and wealth to serve the less fortunate: widows, orphans and those with disabilities, rather than deriving his identity from his popularity and football fame. Not too many people will honestly talk about the importance of serving Christ and holding to their values with no compromise.”

Boudreau notes that she left the event feeling inspired by Tebow’s message.

“The event was much better than I expected because I did not know much about Tebow,” Boudreau said. “I came away inspired and encouraged by his message. I was inspired because his story is one of how God blesses those that serve him. I was greatly motivated when he said, ‘I only play a silly game of football, and if that is all I am known for what a tragedy that would be.'”

Final comments

Tebow stressed the importance of having passion for what one does in life. When Tebow was a young boy, his father brought home the movie Braveheart for the family to watch. After the movie was over, Tim’s father talked to the Tebow children about having the same amount of passion as the characters in the movie; he instructed them to direct their passion toward whatever they were interested in.

Because Tebow had an interest in football, the sport became something he was passionate about; he put in his best effort at every practice and game. It is that passion that brought Tebow to play for the Florida Gators and later for the NFL. Tebow’s father is still one of the most influential people in his life and Braveheart is still his all-time favorite movie.

Tebow also stressed the importance of finishing strong. He recounted from his junior year at the University of Florida when the phrase “finish strong” was his team’s motto. His coach pushed the team all the way to the championship game. He noted that many people can work hard, but it is the people who finish strong that truly succeed at what they do. Tebow left with that advice ringing in the air: “Finish strong.”

FC history teacher Jordana Siebert enjoyed listening to Tebow’s message as well as watching the BTB team perform.

“I loved both BTB and hearing the passion for Christ that Tim Tebow clearly has,” Siebert said. “It was clear through him speaking that he truly wants to further the kingdom of God and that serving our Lord is his ultimate goal. I thought the entire event was unique; we had three different organizations come together, standing for one purpose, to bring glory to God. It’s not many times you see a school, a children’s gym and a professional athlete all proclaiming the name of Jesus in a community.”

Those who wish to purchase photos of the event may contact Tom Milne at
Milne Photography or call 559.431.3826.

This writer can be reached via Twitter: @meredithmonke. Follow The Feather via Twitter: @thefeather.

For more features, read the April 8 article, 75th annual Big Hat Days returns to Old Town Clovis .

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