Demi-Leigh Tebow, the wife of former NFL star Tim Tebow, celebrated her 26th birthday in June by launching a fundraiser to help female victims of human trafficking. The 2017 Miss Universe winner revealed that the issue is close to her heart as she was once almost abducted.
For the fundraiser, the South African model and beauty pageant titleholder teamed up with Her Song, one of The Tim Tebow Foundation’s anti-human trafficking organizations. Her supporters have raised over $203,000 across all fundraising platforms to date, exceeding Tebow’s initial goal of $26,000. The 26 year old said she was “blown away” by everyone’s generosity.
In a video testimony shared on social media, Tebow revealed what drives her passion for helping victims of sex trafficking.
“I think one of the reasons I'm so passionate about giving women all over the world a voice, and the opportunity to reach out to help, is because I have lived with that fear,” she said.
“I never want to victimize myself, but I pray my story serves as a reminder of the countless individuals in need around the world, people who need someone to just step up. This is my story."
The model described a scary encounter she experienced one month after winning Miss South Africa. Tebow recalled how she was dressed up and sitting at a red light in her new car sponsored by the pageant when the incident occurred.
“I looked to my right, and I saw I'm surrounded by five armed men. I didn't know how that could end up [happening] in that moment but I knew that I had to get away,” she explained. "I knew that my materialistic things were just not worth my life. I didn't know exactly what they wanted from me, but I knew it wasn't good.”
“I put up my hands, I surrendered, I gave them everything they needed, but the moment I tried running away the guy on my side of the car grabbed me and he pulled me and he pushed me back into the car yelling at me, 'Get in, you're going with us.' And at that moment, I said, 'No I'm not, I'm not going with you. I don't care if you shoot me, if you kill me, but I'm not going with you,” Tebow recalled.
She recounted how she punched her assailant as hard as she possibly could in his throat. That action, she said, gave her a window of opportunity to run away and look for help.
"In my 6-inch heels, I ran up a big avenue,” she said. "I ran into traffic and tried getting away, looking over my shoulder not knowing [if] I'm being shot in the back. You know what, that's not the worst part of the story. As I ran up that avenue I knocked on about 30/40 car windows. Do you know how many cars stopped for me? Not one!”
Though it was "terrifying" to be in that situation, Tebow said she "kept running" and "kept knocking on car windows."
"I probably ended up at the next traffic light when I saw a small, old little car pull over to the side of the road with a young girl telling me, 'Get in,'" she recalled.
"She let me into her car and she took me to safety. If it wasn't for that young girl who was 19 years old at the time. I don't know what would have happened. I don't know if those men would have followed me, grabbed me, who knows, but I try not to think about that,” Tebow added. "I'm so grateful for that young courageous woman who risked her own safety to be a helping hand to me, and I will ever be grateful to her.”
The model advised listeners, "Don't be that person that shoves someone away, that rolls up your car window when someone is begging you for help. Be that person that leans over and opens up your car door and lets that person in, and lead them to safety."
The Tim Tebow Foundation has been in the fight against sex slavery for over 12 years. They have created a worldwide network with other partnerships that facilitate rescue missions and create safe houses. The foundation also helps build infrastructures around families and communities that offer options other than selling their own family members to try and make ends meet.
To give to Tebow’s birthday fundraiser, visit her site.