Armed with faith, "God stories" and a desire to speak out against abortion, Pam Tebow delivered the keynote speech before more than 500 people Tuesday night at the annual fundraising banquet for the Pregnancy Care Center of Plant City.
Tebow, the mother of New York Jets and former University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, shared her testimony at Hillsborough Community College's John R. Trinkle Center, with the audience interrupting several times with applause.
Tebow rose to prominence as an anti-abortion advocate with the help of a 2010 Super Bowl commercial.
"According to a survey that commercial gave 5.5 million people an opportunity to rethink abortion and choose life,'' she said.
Tebow chose life even though doctors urged her to abort. She was pregnant with her fifth child, Tim, while doing missionary work, with her husband, Bob, in the Philippines. There she contracted amoebic dysentery and had to take strong drugs to combat the infection. Doctors told her to have an abortion or she might lose her life.
That was not an option for the Tebows. The pregnancy was difficult for her and they almost lost Tim several times. When he was born the doctor referred to him as a miracle baby.
"Every child is a gift and a treasure,'' she said. "We told God if he gave us another son we would raise him as a preacher.''
Although Tim Tebow makes his living as a football player, he hasn't shied away from speaking out about his faith. Pam listed his priorities as faith, family and academics, and noted how her son wore Bible verses on his eye black in college.
He also kneels in prayer after scoring touchdowns, a practice now known as "Tebowing."
"When Tim drops to his knee and gives thanks to God he becomes our preacher,'' she said.
Tebow also noted that since abortion became legal it is estimated that more than 15 million babies have been aborted.
"There could have been 12 more Heisman Trophy winners like Tim,'' she said.
She made a decision after the television commercial that she needed to be a voice for life.
The theme for the banquet was Embrace Destiny and Tebow encouraged everyone there to get involved.
She said the Pregnancy Care Center is a ministry of kindness and mercy through the many programs and services to pregnant women. The center, which reaches an average of 128 clients a month, offers ultrasound, material assistance, post-abortion care, pregnancy tests, parenting education, abstinence education, a fatherhood program and all are free.
A young couple, Scott and Jessica Lovelace and their new baby girl, Brooklyn, were introduced at the banquet.
"God and the Care Center helped us out,'' Scott Lovelace said. "We really appreciate everything the center has done for us.''
Michelle Jones can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.