Approximately 1,500 fans packed the parking lot of Big Apple Pizza in Fort Pierce Saturday to watch Tim Tebow get a 'Key To The City' from Bob Benton the city's Mayor.
“I was lucky enough to have an opportunity to watch him play in almost every one of his games as a quarterback for the Gators,” said Benton, whose son graduated from Florida in May.
“... To watch him as a team leader and a devout Christian with morals, he is the ultimate role model for young athletes. I’m honored to have the chance to meet him and would like to give him the key to the city for all he’s done for Florida.”
20 people paid $1,000 to meet Tebow in a private reception at the Kight Building on the Indian River State College campus.
The Heisman Trophy winner, Tebow, and Van Duzer headed across the street to the Big Apple Pizza for a free-to-the-public speech after the reception.
Several hundred devoted fans paid $75 for a picture with Tebow, and $160 for his autograph.
“I just want you all to know that the money that we raise, on our end, goes 100 percent to the Tim Tebow Foundation,” Tebow explained to the crowd in his welcoming statement. “Why that’s important is that all the people who come to get autographs and pictures know that money doesn’t go to me. It goes back into you all’s community and to communities around the world supporting seven orphanages.”
The crowd of jeering fans cheered as the Mayor of the City of Fort Pierce, declared July 3 Tim Tebow Day.
It’s fitting that Tebow’s venue was at Big Apple Pizza, home of one of the hometown heroes: Scott Van Duzer, whose generosity in organizing events have benefited many folks who’ve been hit by financial and personal hardship brought about by unforeseen crisis or tragedy.
Proceeds from the event went to the Van Duzer Foundation and the Tim Tebow Foundation.
“There are some really rabid Gator and Tebow fans,” said Wendy Dwyer, a volunteer for the Van Duzer Foundation, which will receive a portion of the proceeds. “They are so stoked.”
"...We are just starting the party early,” Van Duzer said. “Everyone says there’s nothing to do in Fort Pierce, so we are bringing them this.”
“We are excited that this is Tim’s first signing on the Treasure Coast and his first signing since becoming a Bronco,” Van Duzer explained. “We have mutual friends and I knew Tim was looking to come back for a signing in Florida.”
To date, the Van Duzer Foundation has raised and distributed over $200,000 to families in need.
You can send donations & contributions to: Scott Van Duzer c/o The Van Duzer Foundation, 2311 S. 35th Street, Fort Pierce, Fl. 34981, (772) 528-3467
The Florida Blood Center’s two-day blood drive at Big Apple Pizza managed to rack up 300 units of blood as a result of the event.
I caught up with a Denver Bronco's fan Christy Labonte who was at the event and this is what she had to say:
"I asked him how he likes Denver, he said he is 'really enjoying it.' I asked him how the altitude is affecting him, he said 'it definitely takes some getting used to and it's very easy to get sick from it.'”
"I mentioned how drinking water helps and he agreed with me."
"I gave him a donation for his foundation, which he greatly appreciated and gave me a big hug."
"I told him my friend and I actually met at his Pro Day, which he really got a kick out of. My friend that I was with will celebrate her birthday soon. She was right behind me getting her picture. I told him to wish her a happy birthday when she came up and he did. Such a class act!"