MAGNOLIA, AR (10/24/2023) Two-time national champion, first-round NFL draft pick and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow addressed a sold-out audience at Southern Arkansas University on October 10 as the 2023 Farmers Bank & Trust Distinguished Speaker in the W.T. Watson Athletic Center. This year’s event raised more than $92,000 to benefit scholarships for future generations of SAU students.
Dr. Trey Berry, president of SAU, welcomed the community to what was the largest indoor banquet in the history of Magnolia, Arkansas. “Just by being here tonight, you are changing the lives of our students,” he said, thanking Farmers Bank & Trust in particular for their contributions of gifts, facilities, leadership, and service. Since the beginning of the Distinguished Speaker Lecture Series, over $850,000 in scholarships has been raised.
Dr. Berry also recognized the latest recipients of the Farmers Bank & Trust/Dr. Bob Burns Distinguished Speaker Scholarship Endowment: Karli Rabb, a junior from Emerson, AR, majoring in agriculture: pre-veterinary science and Heath Heikes, a senior from Russellville, AR, majoring in accounting.
Fifth generation banker and Magnolia native Elizabeth Burns Anderson, senior vice president of Farmers Bank & Trust, shared her experience as executive director of the FB&T Foundation, noting the importance of community service as well as the long-standing relationship between FB&T and SAU.
Prior to Tebow taking the stage, Dr. Berry surprised the NFL titan and New York Times bestselling author by naming him an honorary Mulerider. “You can’t come to Magnolia, Arkansas, without becoming a Mulerider,” Dr. Berry said.
Tebow shared inspirational stories of professional athletes, war heroes, and resilient families, reminding attendees of the impact that hope, belief, and faith have on those who are struggling. “There’s a lot that’s being thrown at young people today,” he said. “But you get the chance to throw hope right back at them.”
Tim Tebow was born in Makati, the Philippines, to missionary parents. A former professional football player and baseball player, five-time New York Times bestselling author, international speaker, and ESPN broadcaster, Tebow also founded the Tim Tebow Foundation in 2010. With a mission to fight for the world’s most vulnerable, Tebow’s foundation focuses on anti-human trafficking and child exploitation, orphan care and prevention, profound medical needs, and special needs ministry.
Tebow encouraged the audience to continue helping those in need beyond the evening’s dinner. Quoting a story of Mother Theresa, he said, “True love takes true sacrifice and many times true love actually does hurt.”