UNCC shooting survivor Drew Pescaro meets his inspiration in person — Tim Tebow

Drew Pescaro stood in BB&T Ballpark with an awestruck look in his eye when his sports idol — Tim Tebow — walked his way.

This was the first time the two had met face-to-face, thanks to his family speaking with Tebow’s manager; however, Pescaro and the the former Florida Gators quarterback had met virtually when Tebow called him on FaceTime while Pescaro was recovering from injuries suffered in the UNC Charlotte shooting in April.

Tebow is in Charlotte this week with the Syracuse Mets to play a three-game series against the Knights. This is Tebow’s first season with the Class AAA affiliate of the New York Mets. The series ends Thursday.

Pescaro, 19, has followed Tebow’s career since fourth grade, snagging a jersey from each NFL team the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner played for. Pescaro’s aunt even bought him a New England Patriots jersey, even though Tebow played there for a just few weeks.

Now, that Patriots jersey will be framed with Tebow’s autograph written within the No. 5.

“I thought that was amazing, and this is 10 times cooler,” Pescaro said. “With all of the athletes I’ve met, these are larger than life people that I was talking to. All of a sudden, they’re not so big anymore.”

Pescaro, a sports writer for UNCC’s student newspaper first met Tebow during one of the lowest points of his life. On April 30, a shooter open fired in a UNCC classroom Pescaro happened to be in. As Pescaro laid in his hospital bed during his recovery, he received a surprise from his church.

“The pastor ... comes in, and he’s like, ‘I got someone special who wants to talk to you,’” Pescaro said. “He just turns the phone around. His face is so recognizable, and I’ve been following him for so long. I was just like, ‘Oh my God.’

“It meant the world to me, honestly.”

Tebow was on the screen. As the two talked, a few jokes were made, one being about the same Patriots jersey that Tebow signed.

I was like, ‘I feel like I might be one of the only people in the world that has this jersey,’” Pescaro recalled.

Tebow spent a majority of the call encouraging Pescaro, reminding him to “stay true to his faith and to let the Lord do his job.”

“Even through the tough times, (God is) still going to help me out,” Pescaro said.

For Tebow, encouraging others during their low moments is something that is close to his heart.

“It’s a blessing for me to get to talk to a lot of different people in their time of need, and that’s always something I keep between us,” he said. “(Pescaro’s) someone that in the midst of adversity I think showed so much strength and faith and determination in a tough time.”

Although it seems minor compared to others’ battles, Tebow is facing his own struggle in baseball. He entered Wednesday’s game with a .149 batting average, with just one home run and 70 strikeouts in 168 at-bats. But, he keeps playing because to him, it’s not about the glitz and glam. It’s about his passion.

I love sharing with young people about not letting the world define them, not letting outsiders define them,” Tebow said, “that you have this choice with your life to be able to pursue what’s on your heart, your dreams, your aspirations, what God puts on your heart, and to be able to go do those things.”

For Pescaro, the encouragement from the former Heisman Trophy winner gave him helped during his recovery and made meeting him in person that much sweeter.

He’s just such an inspiration,” Pescaro said. “You can easily compare him to everyday life. When things don’t look great, you can still overcome the harder stuff.”

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