FREWSBURG - Maggie Juul sits in a classroom just a long 3-pointer from the Frewsburg Central School gymnasium late on a Friday afternoon. It's the championship round of the school's annual holiday basketball tournament and Maggie's friends on the girls team are about a half hour from meeting Panama in the title game.
Under ordinary circumstances, Maggie videotapes the action for Coach Jeff Collver. But on this night the 18-year-old senior isn't feeling particularly well, she's running a fever and she knows she has to sit this one out and head home.
After all, Maggie has big plans for the weekend and needs to be well.
Maggie Juul of Frewsburg shares a pregame embrace with New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sunday. Maggie was Tebow’s guest as part of the Tim Tebow Foundation’s W15H campaign.
Photo courtesy of the Tim Tebow Foundation
Check that. She has HUGE plans.
"This is,'' said Bill Hair Sr., Maggie's maternal grandfather, "a lift she needs."
Leave it to NFL quarterback Tim Tebow and the people at the Tim Tebow Foundation to provide that morale boost.
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Six months from now, Maggie will walk across the stage in the FCS auditorium and receive her Regents diploma. As she does so, there will undoubtedly be people in attendance who will be smiling and wiping away happy tears at the same time. That group will likely include, among others, her mother, Connie; her grandparents; her teachers, Bob Goold, Sue Harris and Jane Carnes; and her guidance counselor, Matt Moore.
For if there was a community publication for success stories in the 'Burg, Maggie's would be chapter one.
Enrolled in special education classes at FCS and a student in culinary arts at BOCES, Maggie is not only a member of the National Honor Society, but she is also a swimmer for Coach Bruce Johnson and volunteers at The Relief Zone, which provides outreach programs to children, special needs adults and teens in the Frewsburg area.
"She's full of joy and has a big smile all the time,'' Moore said. "She's taught us how to live our lives more than we've probably taught her.
''She probably has the most work ethic of any student in that school.''
To show his appreciation for Maggie's positive attitude, both inside and outside the classroom, Moore set out last year to make a connection with Tim Tebow, Maggie's favorite football player, and his foundation.
According to its website, the foundation "exists to bring faith, hope and love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need." To that end, Tebow has a weekly meet-and-greet with a selected young person before and after every one of his NFL games.
So late last year Moore sent emails to the Broncos - Tebow was the Denver quarterback in 2011 - and his foundation, describing Maggie, the challenges she has faced, including the death of her father, Greg, a little more than a year ago, and the positive impact she has made on her school and community.
"I knew the Broncos were going to be playing in Buffalo (in December 2011),'' Moore said, " and I wondered if there was any shot to get her a photo opportunity and a handshake with Tim. (The foundation) emailed me back and said they couldn't do it because they already had (selected someone) and they liked to keep it to one child.''
Taking a lesson from his advisee, however, Moore didn't give up.
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Shortly after school opened this fall, Moore decided to send another email to the Tebow Foundation, inquiring whether Maggie might make a connection with her idol - now a member of the New York Jets - when he visited Orchard Park on the final day of the regular season, which was yesterday. Included in Moore's email was the original letter he had sent on Maggie's behalf nine months earlier.
Two weeks ago - Dec. 18 to be exact - Moore arrived at school and had a message on his office voice mail from a woman from the Tebow Foundation. After she asked a few questions about Maggie, the woman informed Moore that Maggie's dream was going to come true on Dec. 30: She and her mom, Connie, would be Tebow's guests at Ralph Wilson Stadium when the Jets played the Buffalo Bills.
Moore immediately contacted Connie to ''make sure it was OK.'' Then, Maggie was called to the school's office where she was put on the phone with the Tebow Foundation representative, who informed the teenager that she would have an opportunity to meet her hero.
''She started jumping up and down and then hugged us all,'' Goold said. ''Then she turned and saw Matt and she ran right in and tackled him.
''It was probably better than any of the tackles Mario Williams had all year. She knocked (Moore) into the desk.''
Moore, who had the privilege of introducing Maggie when she was inducted into the National Honor Society last year, was thrilled with the news, calling it one of the best days in his professional career.
''She lives her life a lot like Tim Tebow does,'' Moore said. ''She's always positive, she's a Christian like Tim Tebow ... and she's always nice to everyone.
''When you take a girl like Maggie, there's a lot of comparisons to Tim Tebow.''
Hair, Maggie's grandpa, was equally impressed with Moore, and the faculty and staff at the school.
''This whole thing came about because Matt went beyond the call of duty,'' said Hair, a retired Frewsburg teacher. ''Maybe this sounds corny to you, but after being in the district for 50 years or so, and working here for 42 of them, this community is kind of special in terms of things like this. The teachers have been wonderful with Maggie. She passed all of her Regents exams and it's because of the effort of the Bob Goolds and the Matt Moores of the world.''
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By early afternoon on Sunday - not long after the opening kickoff at One Bills Drive - a photo of Maggie and Tebow sharing a pregame on-field embrace was posted on the Tim Tebow Foundation Facebook page.
By early Sunday evening, there were nearly 6,000 ''likes'' almost 550 ''shares'' and more than 200 comments.
Wrote one Tebow fan: ''The things that really matter in life. Thanks Tim for always remembering what is true, right and good.''
Hair, Maggie's grandpa, shook his head and smiled when asked what he would say to the former Heisman Trophy winner from the University of Florida.
''I'd tell him he exemplifies what you want in an athlete and what you're looking for in an athlete. ... It's something you'd want to see everybody doing. This guy is going to make it no matter what, because of his class. It's really something and you root for him.''
Judging from the reaction from near and far, there are countless people rooting for Maggie, too.