PHOENIX -- A hotel suite at a posh resort in Scottsdale, a day at the spa, even a tour of the Grand Canyon -- that’s how a teenager from Virginia got to experience the Valley.
Former NFL Quarterback Tim Tebow rolled out the red carpet for one of his biggest fans so he could grant the wish of the girl fighting an incurable disease.
Speaking from her home in Virginia, Haley Burke says when she arrived at the Scottsdale Fairmont Princess, Tim Tebow’s Wish Foundation had laid a trail of rose petals and even had a tiara for her. She says she felt like a princess.
The 18-year-old says, “I wasn't the most popular kid in the school before, but after I had my surgery it was like I was an alien. It gave me such happiness knowing that someone was excited to see me and it just meant the world to me."
Burke still gets teary eyed talking about how the Tim Tebow Foundation flew her to the Valley for an amazing four days so she could meet her hero and even throw a football with him.
She says, “He made me feel like it was worth to keep going. Just overwhelming happiness and courage because before I would go through days to where I didn't feel like anything would ever get better because the condition I have doesn't have a cure for it.”
Three years ago, Burke was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a degenerative connective tissue disorder, and had to immediately have surgery.
She says, “It created such instability in my neck they had to fuse my skull to my spine.”
While she was in the hospital in New York, her medical team reached out to the Tim Tebow Foundation, and in July her dream of meeting him finally became a reality. She got to watch him train, have dinner with the football star, fly over the Grand Canyon, and even throw out the first pitch at a Diamondbacks game.
She says, “It was a lot of fun. I was very nervous because they had me up on the big screen.”
She says she didn’t mind doing all that in the triple digits of July, saying she actually felt better in the dry heat of the desert. She says the heat and humidity back home in Virginia actually make her condition worse.
She says she went home and decided, “If I ever move it's going to be to Scottsdale.”
She says being spoiled by Tebow was amazing, but what she took home from him was priceless.
“He gave me advice and he was just there to talk to me and made me feel like, you know, I was just someone special," she says.