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Saluting Excellence

Posted May 3, 2011

The 13th Annual John Lynch Foundation's Salute the Stars awards luncheon was held Tuesday, with Tim Tebow as the keynote speaker. New Bronco Von Miller spoke to the crowd as well.

DENVER -- On Tuesday, the 13th Annual John Lynch Foundation's Salute the Stars awards luncheon was all about recognizing leadership.

Four Star of the Year awards, two Most Valuable Coach awards, four Execptional Star of the Year awards to disable athletes and finally four $10,000 Lynch Family Legacy Scholarships were presented throughout the afternoon, honoring student-athletes who excel in academics, athletics and community involvement.

"It's about these kids, and that's why this thing continues to grow," John Lynch said. "I'm an old has-been, and yet our numbers are going up every year because people come to it, they see these kids, what they stand for, what they represent, they see these coaches and teachers and there's something special about it. We're honored to be able to do it. All we do is choose them and raise the money so that we can help them. It's an awesome, awesome feeling to be able to do this and see these kids continue to do the great things that they're doing."

But the students weren't the only ones to take home an award at the luncheon. Keynote speaker Tim Tebow was presented with the Leadership Legend Award -- an honor given to Tommy Franks and Jon Gruden when the luncehon was held in Tampa Bay -- at the conclusion of the ceremony.

"Some were concerned about giving an award for leadership to a guy who hasn't done a whole lot yet, but I said, 'Yes he has,'" Lynch said. "When you read what he represents and what he's all about, he's done a lot."

Tebow, who said he wasn't expecting an award, thanked Lynch for the recognition.

In his speech to the crowd of more than 1,000, Tebow talked about leadership, and told the students that everyone is a leader because there's always someone watching you than you can influence.

"I get so sick when I hear athletes say, 'Well, I'm not a role model.' Yes you are, you're just not a very good one," Tebow said on stage. "That's more important than scoring touchdowns and winning championships -- yes, those are things that I want to do and I will do -- but more important than that is giving back and making a difference."

One of Tebow's newest teammates, first-round pick Von Miller, was at the event as well.

Miller, who estimated he has gotten about four hours of sleep in the past five days -- "I'm running on adrenaline and enthusiasm," he said -- was touched by the stories of each student-athlete honored at the luncheon.

"All these kids here, they really inspired me. The stories I heard, all the 4.0 (GPAs) and all the hard work, that's what my mom always wanted me to be," he laughed, standing amidst a group of reporters in the middle of INVESCO Field at Mile High for the first time. "It's always great to give back to the community and show that life is more important than just football and winning games."

"It was a huge honor to come here," he said. "It was a huge honor to be on stage with Mr. Tebow and Mr. Lynch. It's something that I'll hold in my heart for the rest of my life."


As Lynch introduced Tebow and Miller on stage, he told a quick story about when the two were formally introduced just a few minutes earlier.

"It wasn't two seconds into their introduction that Tim says, 'What are you doing after the lunch? Do you want to work out?'" Lynch recalled. "Von said, 'I don't have any shoes,' and (Tebow) said, 'We'll take care of that.'"

After the event, Tebow confirmed with reporters that the two would get together, go for a run, work out and talk about the upcoming season.

"Hopefully I can make it through there and make it back to Dallas," Miller laughed.


The host of the event couldn't say enough about Miller, who agreed to participate on short notice.

"I'm always hesistant to put comparisons on people because it's a lot for them to live up to, but the late, great Derrick Thomas is one," Lynch said. "When I did (commentary for) the Cotton Bowl, I remember watching the film with Daryl Johnston, we were talking about players in that game and the guy that stood out, it wasn't even close, was Von. His leverage -- he can turn the corner -- only one guy who did it that well and could get that low to the ground was Derrick Thomas. That's the guy he reminds me of. I love it, and I think he's going to be great for the Broncos."

Miller said to reporters afterward that the praise makes him want to work that much harder.

When asked about the impact that the return of Elvis Dumervil and addition of Miller will have on the defense, Lynch called the duo "imposing."

"They're a better defense, first and foremost, because they brought John Fox in," he said. "I've played against him for a long time, and his teams, they just always competed at a high level. You better pack your lunch when you're playing a John Fox-coached defense. They're going to be on point and they're going to know what they're doing."

When asked by a fan about the No. 2 overall pick during a Q&A session on stage, Tebow said he had watched plenty of Miller in college.

"I think he's going to be a great asset to our team and he's really going to come in and contribute, make a big difference not only as a player but as a person," he said. "He's high-character, and that's what you need. I'm extremely excited to have him on our team. I think he's going to really help us a lot."