KINGSLEY, Iowa -- By early March each year, Siouxland juniors and seniors have their prom dates secured.
Rachel Bird, a senior at Kingsley-Pierson High School, did not. Rather than panic, Bird tweeted a request to her hero, Tim Tebow, the Heisman Trophy winner who plays quarterback for the New York Jets.
Yes, a Bird in Kingsley tweeted Tebow to join her at prom.
"I asked if he had plans on April 28 because I didn't have a date to prom," said Bird, daughter of Bob and Carol Bird of Kingsley.
K-P classmate Travis Neumann told Bird he'd give her $50 if she and Tebow walked arm-in-arm into the Panthers' prom.
Weeks passed. This Bird's tweet got no response from Tebow, his agent or the Jets.
Undaunted -- or maybe a little daunted -- Bird found a picture of Tebow showing him in a sharp vest and tie. She took the photo to Staples in Sioux City and asked the pros there if they could make a life-sized vinyl reproduction of the photo.
"I knew you could get industrial prints pretty cheaply at Staples, but a color picture like this was going to cost $80," Bird said. "I couldn't spend $80 for a joke."
As Bird departed, a Staples employee mentioned a sale on such reproductions would take place the last week of April. Bird could get her Tebow color print for $19.95 at that time.
Bird considered the tip, then dropped it. Last week, she made plans to go to dinner with her father before the prom dance. Bob Bird left Monday for a new insurance job in Plymouth, Minn. The prom dinner would mark a memory for Dad and daughter.
The family is moving after Rachel Bird graduates from K-P in two weeks. There are few chances left for her to make memories in her hometown.
But Rachel Bird scrapped that plan when she awoke Saturday, visions of a Tim Tebow dance dancing in her head. "I decided Saturday morning that, yes, I'd really do this," she said.
She got the discounted picture at Staples. She and her mother then found a giant piece of cardboard in the trash bin behind Clarks Hardware in Kingsley. Rachel glued the picture to the cardboard as Bob fashioned back supports of wood and a wooden handle.
A star wasn't born; a date was.
Everyone laughed when Rachel Bird showed up at friend DeAndra Mahrt's home for pre-prom pictures. Her classmates HAD to include Tebow in group photos.
Classmates convinced Bird to enter the gym as a "couple" at the grand march. She decided to do it. Announcer Scott Bahrke introduced her last. "Rachel Bird," Bahrke said. "Escorted by Tim Tebow."
"It was awkward, but people asked me to stop for photos during the grand march," she said. "Believe me, this isn't something I ever thought I'd be doing."
She does contend she's the biggest Tebow fan in her school. It would be hard to argue that point now.
Tebow, she said with a laugh, smiled throughout the grand march. He joined Bird at the dance. And while his handle broke when some of the boys passed him around during a fast song, Tebow remained gracious, ever the gentleman.
"He was a cheap date, and he didn't talk much," Bird joked. "And when I asked him to stand in a corner, he did. I don't think it even hurt his feelings."
Bird took Tebow home to change for the after-prom party. And that's where she left him. She may bring him out at her graduation party. He can help greet visitors.
"The after-prom would have been too much," she said of her quarterback idol. "He was tired. He'd been smiling all night."
Bird, who recently read Tebow's book, "Through My Eyes," had but one regret in this prom experience. Was it that Tebow didn't make it to Kingsley in person? No. Is it that she lost out on a chance to win $50 from buddy Travis Neumann? No.
"I should have made a dress out of Jets jerseys," she said. "But I didn't have time."