LAKEWOOD RANCH, Fla. — Madison Lipker sat as patiently as possible on her living room couch, wondering what was to come.
Lisa Hawk, from the Children’s Dream Fund, had stopped by unannounced moments before with a card, flowers and surprise video to share.
As an image appeared on the screen, Lipker’s eyes widened. One of her favorite people was smiling back.
“Hey, Madison,” Tim Tebow said.
The Bradenton teen knows exactly who Tebow is. She’s been a huge fan of the former University of Florida Gators football star because of his life of perseverance.
“It’s Tim Tebow. I was just shocked I was like, oh my goodness,” she said.
Tebow was asked by the Children’s Dream Fund to record a personalized message for Lipker. She’s been fighting bone cancer since July 2019. It’s been a difficult battle. Lipker, 19, has undergone two separate rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, which wrapped up last week.
“I had just graduated high school but I had to go through intense chemotherapy and radiation twice so I didn’t get to go to college like I wanted to,” said Lipker, who graduated from Sarasota Military Academy. “Going through this treatment was tough and it really stunk.”
The Children’s Dream Fund was founded in 1981 with the single purpose of fulfilling dreams for children ages 3-21 who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, and who live in West Central Florida, according to its website.
The non-profit has been trying to fulfill Lipker’s dream of going to Hawaii. That trip is on hold because of travel complications over the COVID-19 pandemic. So, CDF arranged for the surprise message from Tebow as a pick-me-up for Lipker.
“I just wanted to make this video and say I am so excited to meet you,” Tebow continued. “I have heard amazing things about you, just what an amazing girl you are, how much you love the Lord, what an inspiration you are to so many people. So, I just want you to know I’m so excited to be able to hang out with you and I’m just so grateful for your testimony, your life, how you’ve impacted so many people just how special you are so I can’t wait to give you a hug and create a lot of memories. God bless you Madison. I can’t wait to see you soon.”
“Tim is a friend of our foundation and we’re a friend of his foundation,” Hawk said to Lipker. “We know it’s hard to wait for your dream and you’re kind of a hero to us.”
CDF hasn’t formally set up a time for Lipker and Tebow to meet either in person or via ZOOM call. He’s definitely interested in meeting the teen to “create a lot of memories." It will be a fun distraction from the last year of cancer dominating her thoughts.
“Your whole life changes in an instant. Once we found out I had cancer, I had to stop working, I had to stop planning to go to school and I had to start doing treatments. It’s just hard in itself,” Lipker said.
She just finished her latest rounds of treatments and says “everything looks good” medically. Lipker plans to begin cosmetology school next month.
Since its inception in 1981, the Children’s Dream Fund has made dreams come true for more than 3,000 children. According to its most recent audited financial report, 85 percent of all expenses go to make children’s dreams come true. More than 50 percent of all dream costs are covered by in-kind donations.
The Tim Tebow Foundation said it's committed to celebrating people with special needs. Each year the foundation hosts a prom-style event for people around the world called Night To Shine.
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