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Portland Timbers & Thorns FC Partnership

Special Olympics Oregon (SOOR) has a valued and long-standing partnership with Portland Timbers and Portland Thorns FC dating back to 2014, when SOOR began hosting Fall State Games at Providence Park.

As Dr. Robin Beavers, Vice President of Community and Social Impact for Portland Timbers and Thorns FC, said, “We truly value our partnership with Special Olympics Oregon. They hold a special place in our hearts. Stand Together, our community platform, and Special Olympics’ missions are similar – to use sports as a tool to uplift the lives of children and families, – even more so on their part, to expand that reach to grow the acceptance and inclusion of youth and adults with intellectual disabilities in sports.”

We recently had the privilege to connect with Sarah Keane, CFO at Portland Timbers & Thorns, and Hannah Roxas, Community Impact Manager at Portland Timbers & Thorns, about their involvement and passion for Special Olympics Oregon.

Describe your involvement with SOOR during the year.

Sarah: As a board member, (she has been a Special Olympics Oregon board member since 2021) and chair of the governance and nominating community, I’m one of the connections to Timbers and Thorns, making sure things go as smoothly as possible.

Hannah: I have a few different touchpoints. I previously worked for Sport Oregon – which started my connection to Special Olympics Oregon. I’ve been able to see a few different sides of it, getting to work on the 50/50 raffle. Recently, I was more hands-on as one of the chaperones for Niko (Brescia) and Jayce (Chen), who represented and played soccer for Special Olympics Oregon at the Unified All-Star Game in Washington D.C. this summer. It was so rewarding. Jayce was so awesome with Niko.

What is the most gratifying benefit of this partnership with SOOR for you?

Sarah: I’ve always been involved in non-profit and government organizations. I like the role we play in the community and how impactful this club can be and how we can use our platform. Our missions align nicely, being inclusive and inspiring through sport. When you have an organization where you are this aligned and have these many touchpoints like Fall State Games and the 50/50 Raffle, it gives us the opportunity to build a deeper relationship. We meet with SOOR monthly; that’s where the exciting opportunities come from. We want to amplify each other’s messages.

Hannah: I think for me it’s like what Sarah said, it’s refreshing and cool to see how caring our staff are about this and how our whole ecosystem (gets behind) this shared goal. I love to see that.

The Fall State Games at Providence Park – how important are these events to our community?

Sarah: I think it’s a big deal to have the Fall State Games at Providence Park. It’s a landmark in our city that everyone knows. To have the Special Olympics Oregon athletes play on the (same) field that some of the best athletes in the world play on is very special. For us to be able to open our doors and say “Come be a part of this” – we need more opportunities like that in Portland!

Do you have a favorite memory with an athlete from Special Olympics Oregon?

Sarah: Last season, Thomas (one of the athletes) came to a Timbers match, and we got to watch the game together. We got to know one another watching the game. He’s now a member of the board. It’s cool to see him at the table and giving input. We also just marched in the Pride (parade) together – there were several athletes there, and they just rocked the energy. It was so hot, and they didn’t care -they brought the energy!

Hannah: I have two. The first was with Niko and Jayce this summer. We took a red eye to Washington D.C. for the All-Star game and got settled in the hotel. They (Niko and Jayce) were very inclusive of me on the trip and invited me to everything. They were so excited and loved their full schedule – we even made it to the zoo, despite being tired. They took advantage of the opportunity to be back there.

My first memory of Special Olympics Oregon was at NIKE headquarters where an award was given to (Athlete Leadership Council Chair for Special Olympics Oregon) Shawn Hinz, and no one had a dry eye. He’s such a big ray of light; everyone just fell in love with him. It’s how the athletes make me feel. They have extra stuff to deal with that we don’t even think about, and you don’t feel that with them.

As a board member for SOOR, where do you think you have the greatest impact?

Sarah: Trying to make things go as smoothly as possible, doing as much as I can to make it easy for Britt and her team. As board members, if we can take some weight off, that’s what we’re here to do. And be an ambassador.

Tell me about how the Timbers fans react when volunteers are selling the 50/50 raffle tickets.

Hannah: Special Olympics Oregon people bring energy to the raffle! They get a lot of repeat volunteers who sell tickets at the game. We have fun with it and have team competitions for selling the most.

What does Stand Together mean to you?

Sarah: We have our Stand Together week coming up in September, where you get all the players, front office staff, soccer staff, and corporate sponsors getting out in the community to volunteer. This is a huge pillar of the club, and it brings everyone together.

Hannah: It’s a big community platform and a holistic approach and perspective that involves the front office, fans, and all employees being that voice for the community and a shining light that allows us to work towards one goal. It means bringing together everyone from all different backgrounds and communities. These two teams are so loved and seen – it goes beyond Portland. It’s like all different quilt pieces; Stand Together is the string that holds us all together.