WACO, Texas (KWTX) A Central Texas high school student with cerebral palsy who attended his first and second proms through Tim Tebow’s Night to Shine event for those with special needs got a chance to meet the star who helped make some of his dreams come true.
Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow crouched down to talk face-to-face with Ben Ullman. Ben’s mother, Ashley Ballew, said it was a moment neither she nor her son will ever forget. (Photo courtesy of Willie Gomez Photos)
Ben Ullman, 17, was invited to meet Tebow ahead of the former football star’s keynote address at the annual fundraiser for the Care Net Pregnancy Center of Central Texas Thursday evening in Waco.
Ullman’s mother, Ashley Ballew, says her son looks up to Tebow and knows him not for his Heisman Trophy winning athletic ability, but because of his care and concern for those in the special needs community.
“Ben lit up with a big smile and he said that he liked it so that was a really good moment for us,” Ashley said.
The meeting between the two happened in a room at the Hilton hotel just before Tebow addressed the sold out crowd.
Ashley says her son, who has limited communication ability, broke the ice by joking with the former football player that “he was old.”
She says what happened next is a moment neither she nor her son will ever forget.
“He bent down and was on his level because Ben is in a wheelchair and he stayed down on his level the whole time and spoke to him face-to-face, which really meant a lot because a lot of people don’t do that,” she said.
“They talk to me instead of Ben.”
Ashley says she and her son told Tebow how grateful they were for Ben’s opportunity to go to prom at Crestview Church of Christ the last two years.
The church was one of 500 worldwide where the event was held simultaneously.
“I told Tim how much we appreciated him having those proms that those kids and adults can go to,” Ashley said.
“So we shared how much we appreciated that with him and he said he was so glad to do it. And then we hugged.”
Ashley said a local doctor, John Gill, and his wife Hilary, invited Ben to the big event and even gave him the autographed Tebow jersey they received as event sponsors.
Ashley said Ben plans to hang the jersey in his sports-themed room at home.
Ben attended his third prom this past year at Midway High School, taking his close friend Kendall Krause, who has Aicardi syndrome, as his date.
He has plans to attend both his senior prom at school and the Night to Shine Event next year.