JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Former NFL Player Tim Tebow spoke at Freedom Hall Sunday, sharing a message of finding hope, faith and a purpose for life with local teens.

It marked Tebow’s first visit to East Tennessee in a while, but he said he was excited to be back.

“My brother played at Carson-Newman not far from here,” Tebow said. “Just grateful to be back, not just because it’s amazing people, but hopefully because we can have an impact and really encourage a lot of youth.”

Tebow drew a crowd of about 4,000, including Johnson City resident Sander Jones.

“I’ve always been a big fan of Tim Tebow, played football most of my life, just honestly wanted to hear him and see the message that he has,” Jones said.

The event organizer, T.R. Dunn, works with teenagers through the organization 4thirTEEN.

Dunn said seven students were lost to suicide in the region over the past several months.

He said bringing Tebow to Johnson City to share his message of hope with students is right out of a dream — his wife’s dream, to be exact.

“Me and Tim Tebow were onstage and the arena was packed, and there were young people just excited and just they were weeping, and just encouraging one another,” Dunn said. “When she woke up, she began to get on his social media accounts.”

That’s how Tebow learned of the event and knew he just had to be there and try to make an impact on those who would listen.

“Hopefully they just take away how much worth and value every single one of them has,” Tebow said. “How loved they are by so many people that made this happen, but importantly how much they’re loved by the God of this universe.”