PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – From scarves to patches, Portland Timbers supporters rock their Soccer City garb with pride.
What started with a gag, turned into a cause. Last May, Zarek Valentin took to Twitter to see if Timbers and Thorns fans could give him 10,000 retweets to wear a bow in his hair like Australian national teamer, Hayley Raso.
Soccer City came through, and then Z took the ribbon awareness to Level A for Pride Month.
“A little tweet and a bet down the road can turn into somewhat of a little mini-movement so we generated $8,000 last year and we are pretty close to doubling that already,” Valentin said. “To make kids feel comfortable when they are no different from anyone else is...it boggles my mind but again, it’s one of these things where, as an athlete we are given a platform to use it for good.”
In collaboration between Valentin’s RibbonZ Project, Patch Patrol and Stand Together, a new patch will be released for all five home matches for the Thorns and Timbers during Pride Month in June, raising upwards of $20,000 for Portland’s Q Center and Avenues for Youth.
“If you make all of the patches and put them together, it creates a star and as a team we are always striving to get stars,” Valentin said. “We always want more stars, we want more championships and as a community, we strive for equality so that’s our equality star.”
He’s also going from badges to boots.
“A local artist, Buhn Bee designed these, which is incredible. Last year, I did a ribbon and I was extremely nervous. I kid you not, I was probably more nervous for the ribbon game than I was for the final, seriously… It’s just going to an incredible initiative. We are going to have my teammates sign them, a lot more famous and better players than me. We’ll sign these and we are going to auction them off at the Stand Together banquet and then take even that much more money and donate to them.”
He added, “We’re an athlete and we’re told that we should shut up and dribble but I always say, if I just dribbled I’d probably dribble it out of bounds. I’m not going to shut up and neither does the Portland community.”
For more information, visit TheRibbonZ.com.
And congratulations to Valentin and his wife, who are expecting their firstborn son in September, right before another MLS Cup run by PTFC.
Copyright 2019 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.