Team. Town. TA.
Say those words, and then imagine what the perfect blend of those three things would look like.
If you were at Jeld-Wen field today, or if you watched the videos or took a peak at the pictures, then I can pretty much guess what your vision would be. What we all witnessed today was the embodiment of those 11 letters.
By now most of you have the background, but it bears repeating because there is a point here that is so important – a point that, again, embodies the mantra of team, town, and TA.
Atticus was like any other 8-year-old boy playing soccer, when he learned he had cancer. His treatments forced him to miss his final soccer game with his team, the Green Machine.
When Make-A-Wish contacted him and asked what he might like to do, he could have said, “I want my family to go to Disneyworld”. NOBODY would have faulted him for that.
Instead he said that he wanted to do something his whole team could share in – he wanted to play soccer against the Timbers. He is an 8-year-old boy who is the definition of “wise beyond his years” – he wanted to share it with his friends and community – or, saying it another way, his team and his town.
And, so, a match was set. The Timbers would face the Green Machine in the late morning on May 1st.
The second – and I literally mean the second – the word of the game hit social media the Timbers Army was flooded by members offering to help out. It was amazing.
The hardest part of what we did today wasn’t making it happen, it was making sure everyone who wanted to be involved could be involved. The outpouring of love that went into the tifo, the chants, and everything else was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.
When over 3,000 of us walked into the stadium we probably thought, “Man, Atticus is going to love this” – and I’m sure he did (at least I hope he did). But, there was something else.
In the midst of all that, some of us were lucky enough for the first time to really feel what it means when we say team, town, TA. It’s nearly 5 hours since the match ended, and there are still tears welling up in my eyes.
I wish I could articulate exactly why. Part of it is because I’m a father, and I cannot fathom how terrifying it would be to have one of my kids diagnosed with cancer. Part of it is because I’ve always believed in the power of sport to bring people together, but this was overwhelming. And, part of it is because I’m completely taken aback by how much love and community I have felt this afternoon.
Atticus wanted to share his wish with his team; I wonder if he had any idea how much it would mean to the rest of rest of us.
I should close there, because really that’s the message – sometimes you think you’re doing something for someone else, but you actually end up getting more out of it than you could have ever put in.
But I can’t wrap up with acknowledging all the folks that made today special.
On behalf of the 107ist board of directors I’d like to thank:
- The people who came out to help paint the tifo a few weeks back
- Our amazing capos, drums, and trumpet crew for their contributions
- The flag crew (and ad hoc volunteers) who set up the North End today
- The entire Timbers organization, from Merritt to his staff to the players and coaches, all of whom showed the world the definition of class today
- Make-A-Wish Oregon for reaching out to us
- And, of course, Atticus – Thank you for letting us take part in your wish.
Team. Town. TA.