The Timbers will open their preseason in Tucson, Arizona, in the Mobile Mini Sun Cup. The tournament begins on February 3, with PTFC taking on their rave green rivals. While that game may be meaningless in terms of points and standings, every meeting between the two teams means a tremendous deal to the supporters on both sides. This version, however, means a lot more to a certain group of people than it ever could to the fans.
Keepers Care for Kids is an organization out of nearby Phoenix that uses soccer as a platform to, “Provide comfort to children and families as they battle cancers.” The organization has paired up with FC Tucson and Phoenix Rising FC, the clubs putting on the tournament, to organize a toy drive. The toy drive will benefit Diamond Children’s Medical Center in Tucson.
Keepers Care for Kids is run by a thirteen-year-old goalkeeper named Dylan Mapston, a Timbers supporter, who came up with the idea after he wore a pink keeper jersey to honor his two great aunts who are cancer survivors. He collected 250 toys and stuffed animals in the first year of the organization, but after his two-year-old cousin was diagnosed with a spine tumor last year, he felt a responsibility to make a larger impact. Mapston then hired the Timbers Army as mercenaries, along with the Rose City Riveters, and collected 500 toys with their help for Doernbecher OHSU Children’s Hospital in Portland. Mapston finished 2017 collecting 2000 more toys in his native Phoenix with the help of organizations including his soccer club, Sereno SC, his school, Arizona Bike Week Charities, and Phoenix Rising FC.
Phoenix Rising’s community relationship manager, Herber Valenzuela, first met Dylan a few years back, but didn’t form a partnership until after Keepers Care for Kids already worked with Portland’s best fans. “One of the greatest things about the beautiful game is being able to do things like this where supporters, fans, and organizations can unite regardless of what team you are on, or what team you support, in order to make a difference for our youth,” Valenzuela said.
The toy and stuffed animal drive will take place on February 3rd, at the Timbers match against Seattle Sounders FC, at Kino Sports Complex, in Tucson, Arizona. The match will take place on February third. Keepers Care for Kids can be found on Twitter at @keeperscare and on Facebook at Keepers Care for Kids (The Facebook header is the Valeri MVP announcement). The organization accepts monetary donations on Paypal at firstname.lastname@example.org.