—by Cody Goldberg and Patch Adam Perryman
It was my great honor to represent the 107IST in our coordination with Mick Hoban for his annual “Friends of Jimmy Conway” team at the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s. While honored, I was certainly nervous about taking on such an important task. Mick is not just a living legend, but I know of his exacting standards and I well aware that he expects as much as he gives, and he gives A LOT. I gleefully volunteered for the chance to support Mick’s worthy efforts, and I’m very thankful to the 107IST for having entrusted me with the important role.
Mick invited me to meet with him and Noeleen Conway for lunch in June of 2015 to begin our planning efforts. I cannot put to words how impressed I was by Noeleen’s warmth and strength. She was so thankful that we were planning to be involved, and her humility and grace were really noteworthy. I’d heard stories about the incredible bond between her and Jimmy, and it really showed during our meeting how much she loves and adores him.
Over lunch, I presented our plans. In short, we planned to host a viewing party at Kells on NW 21st which would serve as an initial fundraiser, as well as a way to get the word out about the walk. In addition, we planned a unique t-shirt design paying tribute to Jimmy to be used as an incentive to sign up for the walk. Mick and Noeleen were very generous in their full gratitude and support for the plans.
While it was not needed, I walked away from our lunch meeting with much deeper commitment to be sure that the 107IST showed Mick, Jimmy and Noeleen our due respect and support. For those unfamiliar with Jimmy’s impact on the beautiful game, especially here in Portland, I can do no better here than to share the notes as originally prepared by Mick himself…
JIMMY CONWAY BRIEF FOR USE WITH 107IST/TIMBERS ARMY ACTIVITIES
Jimmy Conway is one of five (5) members of the Timbers Ring of Honor. He was inducted for his 30 years of dedicated service to soccer in the Pacific Northwest.
His career started in Dublin, Ireland and he became a distinguished player for Fulham FC, Manchester City, Portland Timbers and the Republic of Ireland. After finishing his professional career he joined a local amateur team, ‘St Pat’s’ which became Pierre’s SC, and played with distinction in the Oregon Adult Soccer Association.
His distinguished career in coaching included spells with Pacific University, Oregon State University, Portland Timbers and the Oregon Youth Soccer Association where he spent more than 28 years as State Coach.
Very few people have had such a positive effect on soccer in the Pacific Northwest and, odds are, if you are involved with the game in any way Jimmy contributed to the development of the organization you are a part of.
In late 2009, Jimmy was diagnosed with ‘Trauma Induced Dementia’ and since then has suffered the consequences of this deadly disease. He is currently hospitalized for treatment of his condition.
Each year since 2010 family and friends have joined together at the ‘Walk to End Alzheimer’s’ to raise awareness and donations, in Jimmy’s name, (Friends of Jimmy Conway) to show our respect and gratitude for his selfless devotion to the sport of soccer and to help find a cure for Alzheimer’s. Please join Jimmy’s wife Noeleen, and friends within the soccer community, on Sunday, September 13th at P.I.R. to show our respect and gratitude for Jimmy’s contribution to soccer and to raise money to help find a cure for Alzheimer’s.
The match that we chose for hosting the viewing party/fundraiser was on Wednesday, June 24th against the Los Angeles Galaxy. We arranged door prizes and promoted the event a lot. The place was packed. The energy was really good. We were down 0-Many at halftime.
I recall cheering, “We believe beyond reason!” really loud before introducing Mick. In spite of a final score of 0-5, it was a really nice event which raised some good money and was very well attended. While nobody might believe this now, I swear I remained very hopeful about the remainder of the season. We all know how that turned out. I am convinced that our amazing run this year is very much tied to the amazing community that we are blessed to be a part of. I’m thankful for Mick and Noeleen and Jimmy for being instrumental in having created this community.
Onward to September 13th. What a magical day it turned out to be.
This was to be my third time as a participant in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s as one of the contingent known as "Friends of Jimmy Conway". Cody had asked me if we could have a banner created to take with us as the group walked around the track at Portland International Raceway. This seemed like a no-brainer, and so we exchanged a logo he had created and used at the watch party at Kell’s and had placed on tees for all the participants to wear. It was a particularly warm and very sunny day as I arrived early to the Walk and located a place for us folks supporting Jimmy to converge. After setting out this fair-sized banner onto a concrete barrier along the racetrack and near some vintage automobiles, it wasn’t long before a few, then a couple dozen, then close to a hundred folks arrived and started trading stories, laughter, and embraces. Events like these, I remember thinking, are what brought out the best in people; and for us who support a football club, and the men who play(ed) for it, there was a sense of being people first and everything else took a back seat. I’d brought a bunch of Sharpie pens and a white matte panel that participants could sign. The plan was to get a group shot framed and offer it to Jimmy’s wife who arrived a short time later. It was something Cody and I had considered doing at the Fanladen before a match as a chance for everyone do something personal for Jimmy and his family.
We formed up for that group photo and were joined by a school cheer squad who performed impromptu to a Timbers Army chant. Next, we moved the track to begin the 1.3 mile walk. Folks took the initiative to identify and take on duties that considered our group’s needs: volunteering to carry extra water and snacks, carrying the banner in front of our contingent, ensuring we had enough room to not step on other groups’ toes. I took my wife’s hand and we carried our daughter, surrounded by many in the middle of the pack.
As we started walking, Tim Birr set the tone with an unmistakable rendition of “Portland Boys” on his bagpipes that got everyone singing along. Everyone had topics discuss while we walked: Our club’s season, family members affected with dementia, working or schooling or both or neither. Coach Porter had brought his family to join us and walk for Jimmy. He made the rounds throughout the crowd, humble and warm in his personable way. At the final turn we were met with applause from the groups who’d finished before us, thankful for our contribution to the cause. We reassembled at the same spot we’d met up, wished each other well, and dispersed.
A few days later I was part of a group who received an email from Mick Hoban, within which is one sentence that I’m sure he’d not mind having shared with you:
“The 107ist/Timbers Army are a force to be reckoned with in the stadium, on the road and in the community and they are never stronger and never more focused than when they are showing their support for a member of the Timbers family.”
It’s true for Jimmy and for so, very many more: Yesterday. Today. Forever.