Mike Curtiss (14
"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
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
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
"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
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