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Tuesday, Sep. 27, 2016

News blitz doesn't phase 2-D Tebow's prom date

Thursday, May 17, 2012

(Photos contributed) Kingsley teen Rachel Bird, standing with her homemade life-size cardboard cutout of NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, found herself the center of media attention after taking the flat version of the football player to the Kingsley-Pierson school prom.
Like her senior prom date Tim Tebow, Kingsley-Pierson graduate Rachel Bird isn't letting fame go to her head.

True, her date at the prom earlier this month was actually a life-size cardboard cutout of the NFL football player.

Still, the media heyday that followed for Bird was very real.

Newspapers, TV, Internet news sites -- the Kingsley teen and her two-dimensional Tebow hit them all after walking through K-P's grand march.

"It's definitely been crazy," Bird said.

Websites from NBC Sports to the UK's Daily Mail picked up the story, and now the prom couple is featured on hundreds of thousands of sites online.

Bird said she couldn't even keep track of all the places her name is in print, radio and TV.

"A friend would tell me, 'hey, I saw you on MTV,'" Bird said.

While Tebow hasn't touched base with the Kingsley teenager yet, she did receive a Denver Broncos jersey he signed.

Tebow served as the Broncos' quarterback until this spring, when he was traded to the New York Jets.

The jersey didn't come from Tebow himself, but from FRS Healthy Performance, an energy drink and supplement company, Bird said.

Tebow is a spokesman for the company.

Bird explained FRS sent her a message on Twitter a week ago, saying if she replied, they'd send her a jersey.

Bird didn't pass up that offer.

The whole story started with a bet from Bird's friend Travis Neumann earlier this year.

"He said he'd pay me $50 if I took Tim Tebow to prom," she said.

Bird was already an avid Tebow fan.

"He is an amazing role model on and off the field," she said. "I admire his faith -- and he's really cute, too."

Tebow isn't shy about sharing his faith, praying on his knees after every game and devoting time to mission and charity work.

So Bird sent a message to Tebow on Twitter: "Do you have any plans? I don't have a prom date."

Tebow didn't respond, and he still hasn't, but Bird isn't upset.

"I didn't expect an answer," she said with a laugh.

As K-P's prom got closer, Bird still wanted to go with friends, but they had dates, and she didn't want to bring someone who would feel like the odd man out.

Then she remembered her friend's bet.

"I thought maybe I could still get that $50," Bird said.

So she tracked down an online photo of Tebow dressed up in a suit and had it enlarged to life size.

She attached the photo to cardboard and got him prepped for the prom, complete with a spritz of cologne.

It may be tradition for the guy to pick up the girl in his car, but Bird drove her date to the prom.

"I took my parents' Yukon so he laid in the back across the seats," Bird said.

When they arrived at the prom, at the last minute, Bird decided to walk through K-P's grand march.

"Rachel Bird, escorted by Tim Tebow," the announcer called out.

She hadn't told many people about her "date" because she wanted it to be a funny surprise.

"They all know I like Tim Tebow, but they didn't know I'd go that far," she laughed.

Bird was in for a surprise herself -- finding her name and photo with Tim Tebow all over the news after prom was over.

"I just hoped to get $50 out of a friend," the recent graduate said. "But I think anything about Tim Tebow gets in the news. People are fascinated by him. And this is a light-hearted story."

As for actually getting that $50 from her friend, it may be just as likely that Tebow would call Bird up -- Neumann isn't convinced a two-dimensional appearance from Tebow fulfills the bet the two friends made.

For other promgoers, Bird recommends a cardboard date.

"I had so much fun hanging out with my friends, and I didn't have to babysit a date," she said, laughing.

She even sent Tebow a "thank you" message on Twitter.

"Thanks for being such an awesome prom date, @TimTebow ...You were such a gentleman!" her tweet said.

Bird, who was her class valedictorian at K-P, doesn't focus on her own recent Tebow-related fame.

At K-P's graduation Sunday, she spoke about the character of her classmates.

"We have a great senior class," she said later. "I've loved it here."

Bird said she'd be pretty surprised if Tebow ever contacted her.

"If he hasn't responded after all the media attention to this, I don't think he'll get back to me," she said. "We'll see if something comes out of it."

Whether or not she ever hears anything from the quarterback, Bird still plans to catch all Tebow's games on TV as he starts his new season with the New York Jets.

"I love football in general, and especially if he's playing," she said.

Bird starts classes at Northwestern College in Orange City this fall, and she might take her flat Tim Tebow, depending on how well he holds up.

"We'll see," she said. "He's starting to wilt."

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