When the Portland Timbers visited Providence Seaside Hospital and Warrenton Grade School Monday, children were given the chance to interact with their heroes.
As part of their sixth annual Rose City Road Trip, Timbers players Roy Miller, Darlington Nagbe and Lawrence Olum began their day visiting patients at Providence Seaside.
Later that morning at Warrenton Grade School, they helped make Buddy Benches, an international project that gives children a safe place to retreat.
To help with the benches, tree logs with Timbers logos were stenciled and ready for children to paint. Some logs will be attached to the Buddy Benches or hung in the hallways of the school.
“I think it’s cool and it’s good for kids to be here and paint with them,” said 10-year-old Nayomi Holmstedt.
Her older brother, 14-year-old Dodger Holmstedt, said he is a Timbers fan, and that his experience helping to paint logs was “pretty cool.”
Debbie Morrow, the chairwoman of the Warrenton-Hammond School Board, said a young boy and his hero — Olum — signed a log together.
“The fact that we have, in rural Clatsop County, Portland Timbers coming out to hold a clinic for our kids is amazing,” Morrow said. “Our kids will never forget this.”
The benches will be placed in Warrenton, Astoria, Gearhart and Seaside.
“If you want a buddy, need a buddy, then be a buddy. That’s really the premise of the buddy bench,” Morrow said.
The Timbers players along with Timber Joey, the team’s mascot, worked with children to help create the buddy benches.
“It’s been great,” Nagbe said.
He said a lot of the children asked him questions about who he is and what he does. “That’s the best part – seeing how excited they get,” Nagbe said.
“For all of us it’s nice to be here,” Miller said. “For me it’s cool to be part of this project to be able to do this with the kids.”
Miller said the children were happy to see them, and that he learns from them.
“This is motivation for us,” he said.
Later Monday afternoon, a free soccer clinic was held at Warrenton Soccer Complex, followed by a question-and-answer session.
“How do you become a real soccer player?” a young girl asked. Nagbe explained that it takes hard work.
One boy asked Timber Joey, “Who’s your favorite Timbers player?” He responded by saying, “Every player has a special place in my heart.”