A New York Mets minor leaguer with a Heisman Trophy from his time in The Swamp brought some star power to Gov. Rick Scott's Hurricane Irma relief efforts Tuesday.
After visiting a special-needs shelter together Monday night in Jacksonville, Scott teamed with former University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow on Tuesday to thank 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.”
Tebow, who grew up in the Jacksonville area and stopped by a number of Northeast Florida evacuation shelters, had worked with Scott to rally people to volunteer at shelters and in relief efforts before Irma made landfall Sunday in the Florida Keys and Southwest Florida.
“It's not like you can make everything better at once, but you can know that people are praying for you and they love you and they are here with you walking this journey with you,” Tebow said.
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.
Scott told reporters that people staying and working in hurricane-evacuation shelters have appreciated Tebow's appearances and efforts.
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.