Mike Curtiss (14 Jan 2012)
"Why Tebow Matters"

 
Loveland's Bailey Knaub gets the surprise of her life with Tim Tebow visit
Reporter Hearald ^ | Jan 9, 2012 | Mike Brohard
Posted on January 12, 2012 9:04:11 PM CST by bkopto
The joke in the family was that Gentry Knaub was the famous child, thanks to her years as a standout gymnast at Thompson Valley High School.
It was her joke, of course, and mostly aimed at her older brother, Collin, who will give her a run for her money in April when his work to break a major case as a member of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation will be featured on 20/20. Then again, they both know by now they can't hold a candle to their little sister, Bailey.
Bailey became a celebrity to her friends on Sunday when she and her family went to the Denver Broncos' 29-23 overtime win in the AFC Wild-Card playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers as personal guests of Tim Tebow.
"I don't like," she joked of all the attention. "I'm not used to it."
But she adapted well as all of her friends wanted to hear all about her day. Teacher Jay Denning grabbed her first thing for the scoop on Tebow, and Tom Hewson made her stand up in front of the class and tell of her experience.
She didn't really tell that many people it was happening, but before the Knaub family -- she went with Gentry, her mom, Kathy, and dad, Rob -- had left Invesco Field at Mile High, both Bailey and Gentry's cellphones were buzzing. Tebow had mentioned Bailey by name during his post-game press conference for the nation to hear.
"It is special to have the platform of playing football, because I have the opportunity to affect people," Tebow said in front of a swarm of media. "I was very excited to have Bailey Knaub at this game, and this is a girl. ... Football is amazing, we love it, we're so passionate about it as you could see right there. But the real win, at least I would say today, is being able to comfort a girl who has gone through 73 surgeries before the game and get a chance to go hang out with her now. That's the biggest win of the day. They're both exciting, but that's what I'm even more proud of."
The trip caught the family by surprise. Last Thursday, they were contacted by the Tim Tebow Foundation that the quarterback would like to have Bailey attend the game as his personal guest. The Foundation had received a letter written by her cousin, Ryan Lockwood, unbeknownst to them. Tebow representatives told Rob they receive 600 letters a week, but the one Lockwood wrote chronicling Bailey's battle with Wegener's granulomatosis hit them hard. It is a rare disease with no known cause or cure that causes blood vessels to become swollen and inflamed, forming tumors in the nose, sinuses, ears, lungs and kidneys. Because of it, she has endured the surgeries, one of which -- "No. 70," she notes -- was the removal of her left lung, and a host of chemotherapy treatments. Her latest batch ended a month ago.
Her key to staying positive, she said, was that in seeing all the sadness around her, she should just be happy. In a way, she's always known she's served as an inspiration to those close to her, but to hear someone like Tebow was moved by her story really hit her.
"It was a shock that he would, after such a big game, after such a big win, that he would mention me," Bailey said.
She said she has been a big Tebow fan since his days at Florida, and is thrilled to see him in a Broncos uniform. And naturally, the day was amazing right from the start when Tebow walked up to her on the sidelines.
"After warm-up, he walked over to me and gave me the football and said we'd talk after they won the game and he'd sign the football later," Bailey said, the grin long from being removed from her face and the autographed football nearby. "He talked to me for like a minute, and he called me by name. I was almost squealing I was so happy."
"He said he was so glad he finally met her and called her by name," Gentry said.
"And hugged me," Bailey added.
Kathy said it felt like they were welcomed in as part of the family. The quarterback's parents and siblings were there, and the Knaubs were greeted with welcoming hugs and words of encouragement, even praying with the family. And when all the press conferences were done, Tebow was true to his word and spent some quality time with Bailey, gladly posing for pictures with her and the family.
"He told me he was glad that I came, and that I was such an inspiration for what I was dealing with and being so positive even though I've been through so much," she said. "It was all too exciting."
And to cap it off, Tebow made sure Bailey had the full experience, having her walk with him to his car through the swarm of adoring fans that hailed his latest victory.
For Bailey, the day was a victory for herself. She feels she now has more to offer others who are in a similar situation, and plans on going to the Children's Hospital to talk to kids her age who know her story firsthand.
"I didn't think I had that much effect," she said. "Now I realize how big a part I could play in the future. I can do something more.