When Tim Tebow Celebrated His 32nd Birthday, He Made A Stunning Request For 150 Terminal Children

Image: John Lamparski/Getty Images/Facebook/Tim Tebow Foundation

Quarterback, baseball player and all-round star Tim Tebow has always had other things on his mind besides sports. He’s a major philanthropist and a big believer in the power of charitable giving. So, when he turned 32 years old, he made an unusual request. It involved his own organization and the stories of 150 very sick children.

Image: Tom Hauck/Icon SMI/Icon Sport Media via Getty Images

The famous football player set up the Tim Tebow Foundation in 2010. It was simply the next step in a life that had been packed to the brim with charitable work. His desire to help others came from, Tebow always maintained, a childhood spent in the Philippines as the son of Christian missionaries.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: UF News & Public Affairs/University of Florida/Collegiate Images via Getty Images

A year before the foundation got off the ground, Tebow told The New York Times that he wanted to use his football career to promote charitable endeavors. He explained, “I want to take that platform, that and everything that God has given me… to have organizations, to have non-profits. To do similar things that my dad does in the Philippines, but to have them here in the States.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Facebook/Tim Tebow Foundation

Tebow also discussed the charity work he’d already done in the Philippines, as well as the orphanage his parents had set up there. He said, “When I went back there on spring break, we took the kids to a mall. It’s not really a mall. It’s like a village. We took them and there’s this ice cream place. It’s completely horrific ice cream, but it’s the first time that these kids have ever had ice cream in their life, most of them.”

Image: Jim Rinaldi/Icon SMI/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tebow went on to say that he hoped his fame would help him to improve things for the orphanage. He explained he was, “trying to take the kids to church and school and different places. Also, helping get running water and fixing wells and pipes. Helping get money to buy more groceries in the store. It’s what you would think of as everyday stuff.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

After starting the Tim Tebow Foundation, the football star laid out his motivations and aims on the charity’s website. He wrote, “My early years were spent in the Philippines where my parents served as missionaries. My experiences there and the training from my parents, who instilled in me the importance of God’s word, the salvation that we have in His Son Jesus, and the responsibility that we have to give back to others, gave me a desire to make a difference in people’s lives.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Tebow then explained how a child inspired him to create the foundation. He said, “At the age of 15, I visited a remote village that had never seen visitors. There, I met a boy named Sherwin who would impact my life more than anyone I have ever met. Sherwin was born with his feet on backwards and was viewed as ‘cursed’ in his village.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Facebook/Tim Tebow Foundation

Tebow went on, “When the people saw me hold Sherwin, they realized that the good news of Jesus Christ applies to everyone. It was then that my passion grew to help people. That’s why in 2010, I was so excited to create the Tim Tebow Foundation with a mission to bring Faith, Hope and Love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Facebook/Tim Tebow Foundation

Tebow laid out some of the things the foundation hoped to do. These included “helping a family adopt an international child with special needs,” “crowning kings and queens of the prom” and assisting kids who had serious conditions. Tebow added, “Our goal is to let people know that God loves them and that they are worthy.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Facebook/Tim Tebow Foundation

In 2011 the Tebow Foundation teamed up with the charity CURE to build a new children’s hospital in the Philippines. The hospital was going to specialize in helping children who had curable deformities, such as burns and clubfoot. It would also include a special touch of Tebow’s, an area called “Timmy’s Playroom.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Facebook/Tim Tebow Foundation

Tebow has donated a number of Timmy’s Playrooms over the years. The first one was created in 2012, and thousands of parents with children have used them since then. According to the foundation website, “these playrooms provide an atmosphere that allow children to take their minds off their medical conditions and treatments, and just be kids again.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Facebook/Tim Tebow

The website went on to explain, “Each room is customized to fit the function and form of the respective hospital. But most include a football field floor, custom-built lockers for seating, table for arts and crafts, flat screen televisions, the latest multi-media and video game system, toys, interactive games, and activities.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Facebook/Tim Tebow Foundation

And when Tebow spoke on the website about “crowning kings and queens of the prom” he meant he would be starting a special prom-style event for teenagers and adults with special needs. This annual party is entitled Night to Shine. It’s currently hosted by hundreds of churches across the globe.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Facebook/Tim Tebow Foundation

In 2017 Tebow gave an interview about his good work and the people it helps to the website Alligator Army. He said, “My goal is to affect their lives in a way that they’ll be better off in the long run. Or they’ll have a smile on their face or they’ll have a brighter day or they’ll be able to encourage someone else.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The interviewer asked Tebow, “Outside of community service, football, and baseball, what do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment in life?” Tebow answered, “Our hospital at the foundation.” And when asked what he most wanted to be remembered for, the footballer answered simply, “Loving people.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images

Questioned about what he wanted to do in the future, Tebow said, “I really just want to do so much more with our foundation and continue to grow. We have a bunch of different initiatives we’ve been working on right now. But to grow that as big as possible and to help as many people as possible.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

In April 2018 Tebow pondered more on his future in an interview with People magazine. Though he was doing a celebrity golf tournament at the time, he told the publication his life’s purpose was “not sports.” He said, “It’s about helping others. It’s about finding the people who need hope.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Mark Brown/Getty Images

People also asked Tebow about his personal life. He was single, he said, but he would “love to be with someone.” And apparently, he had also been considering fatherhood. The sports star told the magazine, “I want to adopt so badly. I can’t wait. It’s definitely something I see in my future.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tebow went on, “You know what I think would be awesome? If I could adopt a kid from every continent. I think that would be a pretty cool goal. I want to sit around the dinner table every night and see kids from Africa, Asia, Europe, South America, right here in the States. How cool would that be? It’s one of my favorite things to dream about.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Steve Jennings/Getty Images for ESPN

And as it turned out, Tebow ended up meeting his romantic partner through his charitable work. Later on in 2018 he met Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, the 2017 winner of the Miss Universe competition. In September 2018 Tebow shared with the Today show about how the two came to be a couple.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Kent Phillips/Disney Parks via Getty Images

Tebow told Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford that he and Nel-Peters had met at a Night to Shine event. He explained, “Her sister has special needs, so we invited them to Night to Shine in South Africa. We kind of met and started talking through that and haven’t stopped.” He also said Nel-Peters was “very sweet.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Robin Marchant/Getty Images for DIRECTV

Come January 2019, Tebow and Nel-Peters had announced that they were engaged. The proposal involved a quality ring and a bench engraved with the date of the couple’s meeting. Recalling the event, Tebow told People, “I actually wasn’t really nervous. I was excited. I wanted everything to be perfect and to go smoothly. But I wasn’t nervous to actually ask her.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Instagram/demileighnp

Unfortunately, tragedy struck the couple later on that year. In May Nel-Peters’ half-sibling Franje – who had brought the couple together in the first place with her presence at Night to Shine – passed away aged just 13. Nel-Peters wrote on her Instagram, “Our hearts are aching beyond measure but I am grateful knowing she’s forever relieved of the pain she experienced on Earth.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Instagram/timtebow

Tebow also left a tribute for the teenager, writing on his Instagram account, “Our loss but heaven’s gain. So grateful for the hope we have of being reunited with the ones we love through our Heavenly Father.” He went on to tell the young girl’s family that he was offering them his prayers.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Mark Brown/Getty Images

All in all, the months after the engagement weren’t very good ones for Tebow. Later on something else happened that was far less tragic, but still a hindrance. In July 2019 it was announced that Tebow had suffered an injury. This was a deep cut on his finger that would looked likely to prevent him playing baseball until 2020.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Probably no-one would have blamed Tebow if he’d chosen to celebrate his 32nd birthday quietly with his friends and family. But instead, he announced a brand new charitable drive. Come August 2019, he declared on his official Facebook account that he wished to get a very special present that year.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: YouTube/timtebowfoundation

The sporting megastar wrote on his Facebook page, “What’s up Family! So, I have a birthday coming up soon. I’m turning 32, which sounds ridiculous! So many of our TTF family members have asked if there was any way they could support me or if they could give me a birthday gift.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: YouTube/timtebowfoundation

Tebow went on, “I’m so grateful for your generosity and well wishes. But just like last year, what I would like more than anything is to celebrate my birthday with you by changing lives at the Tebow CURE Hospital! Without us, these kids in the Philippines wouldn’t be helped, wouldn’t be loved, and wouldn’t receive the life-changing care they need.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: YouTube/timtebowfoundation

What Tebow really wanted to do, he said, was “celebrate 32 years of life by helping kids in their darkest hour of need. That is a true celebration! For my 32nd birthday, my goal is to fund 150 life-changing surgeries for kids at the Tebow CURE Hospital, and we can make that happen by coming together to raise $150,000 – $1,000 per life-changing surgery.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: YouTube/timtebowfoundation

Tebow concluded, “I’m so grateful for your past support of me, TTF and the kids we serve… So I want to humbly ask that you prayerfully consider giving a gift to help us reach our goal and provide these life-changing procedures. I am truly grateful for your support of TTF and I know that together, we can continue to change a lot of lives of children who need our help!”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Facebook/Tim Tebow

People were inspired to donate, and things moved quickly. On August 13 Tebow posted a video where he spoke about a child called Aldrin. The boy had gone into the Tebow CURE Hospital at the age of 11 with a serious leg deformity. According to Tebow, he “could barely walk into the hospital.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Facebook/Tim Tebow

Tebow said that Aldrin reminded him of Sherwin, the child who’d inspired him to set up the foundation in the first place. Aldrin had been bullied and neglected, he said, but at the hospital “they had a surgery and four hours later, Aldrin’s legs were straight. Doctors say he’s going to have the ability to walk tall for the first time in his life.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: John Lamparski/Getty Images

As an accompaniment to that touching video, Tebow wrote, “TTF family! The team just notified me that with all the places we are fundraising, we have passed 50 percent of the goal. That means 75 children just like Aldrin will receive a life-changing surgery! I’m so humbled and grateful for the support!”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Facebook/Tim Tebow

One day later, on Tebow’s actual birthday of August 14, the star posted another video to his Facebook page. In this one he said, “Today, this team has worked so hard all day to continue to share the message about our birthday fundraiser. And guys, you are so awesome because we have raised over $120,000 so far.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Tebow announced, “That’s over 120 surgeries, and our goal is 150. And we have another donor who signed on… he’s going to match $50,000 today. So we’re already at 170, we’re past our goal, but let’s keep giving. Cos it matters, and there’s a lot of kids that need you, they need us.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: FOX Image Collection via Getty Images

The same day, the foundation paid tribute to its founder. On the official Facebook page a message was put up reading, “Happy 32nd birthday to our Founder & Chairman, Tim Tebow, from the children at the Tebow CURE Hospital Hospital and your TTF family! Thank you for your relentless pursuit to change this world through the message of Jesus, and Faith, Hope & Love!”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Facebook/Tim Tebow

The following day, Tebow had some good news. He posted a picture on Facebook and wrote, “So fun celebrating my birthday with the team today. But the real celebration is helping these kids in their darkest hour of need! Y’all have crushed and I’m so thankful for all the support. Because of you, we will be able to provide 150 life-changing surgeries at Tebow CURE!”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

However, Tebow’s charity work didn’t remotely stop there. And it didn’t stop when he got married to Nel-Peters either. Before the wedding took place in January 2020, the engaged couple announced on Instagram that instead of wedding presents they would prefer people to make donations to the Tim Tebow Foundation.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Instagram/demileighnp

Tebow wrote on his Instagram, “A question I’m asked a lot is what have I learned throughout the wedding planning process… without a doubt, [Nel-Peters] and I are better together than we ever were apart. As we started planning the wedding, one thing we knew we wanted to do was to give all of our guests the option to support the mission of TTF in lieu of gifts.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Instagram/demileighnp

The wedding took place on January 2020, but even during the honeymoon period Tebow didn’t take a break from his charitable activities. At the beginning of February he and his new wife took off for a Night to Shine event, met Pope Francis, and then headed straight back off for another one. The sports star, it seems, just never stops.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT