Northeast Florida native Tim Tebow has started his week visiting hometown shelters after Hurricane Irma left thousands in Northeast Florida with flooded homes or without power.
Tebow, A New York Mets minor leaguer with a Heisman Trophy from his time in the University of Florida’s Swamp, said Tuesday morning he had gone around most of Jacksonville and some of St. Augustine the night before to comfort people affected by Irma.
“It’s not like at a time like this you can take away all the worry or the doubt or the fear that people have,” Tebow said, “but hopefully what you can do is you can bring a little joy and brighten someone’s day and let them know that there are people out there that are ready to fight with them and that love them and care about them.”
Governor Rick Scott and Tebow on Tuesday thanked volunteers and workers at the state Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee and then left to do the same in Lee County.
“In the midst of a really tough time, you know I think so many people that were hurting have something to hold on to because there were so many volunteers … and they knew there were people in it with them,” Tebow said during the Tallahassee stop. “It doesn't take away their pain, and it doesn't take away their fear and doubt of the unknown, but it does give them a little comfort to know that there are people battling with them and loving and supporting them.”
Also, before Scott took part Monday in an aerial survey of damage in the Keys, the governor talked about Hurricane Irma's storm impacts with Tebow, college football's 2007 Heisman Trophy winner. Tebow played minor-league baseball this year in the New York Mets system.
On Friday, Scott retweeted a message from Tebow that said, “@FLGovScott is asking for more volunteers. LET'S RALLY, Florida! Go here: volunteerflorida.org.”
Scott last week also retweeted a message from Miami rapper Pitbull, a former paid ambassador for the state's tourism industry, who said, “Florida residents & visitors, please be diligent. Evacuate where needed. Be safe. We will be back bigger, better, stronger.”
The storm work by Tebow won't get him a “Great Floridian” honor — Scott’s already given him that designation.
Tebow was part of the 2013 class of “Great Floridians” that included former Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula, the late Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, golfer Bubba Watson, and 16th Century Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de Leon, each recognized for making significant contributions to the progress and welfare of Florida.
Tebow, who is also a college-football analyst for ESPN, has a charity intended to help children in need. He's also said he can envision a future career in politics.
News Service assignment manager Tom Urban contributed to this report.