Who knew a shaggy-haired 8-year-old could inspire a city and a country just by asking to play a soccer game?
But that's exactly what happened when Atticus Lane-Dupre, a young player from the Portland area who was diagnosed with cancer last fall, asked if his team, the Green Machine, could play the Portland Timbers as part of the Make-a-Wish program. His wish was granted, and on a sunny Wednesday afternoon earlier this month, the Green Machine ran out at JELD-WEN Field to faced the Timbers.
In the stands were more than 3,000 members of the Timbers Army supporters group, who sang and chanted and supported Atticus and the Green Machine.
When the final whistle blew, the Green Machine had earned a 10-9 victory and Atticus was named Man of the Match. He scored four goals, including the match-winner.
“It really puts things in perspective," Timbers head coach Caleb Porter said after the match. "We’re trying to win games and we have goals here as an organization. There’s nothing more meaningful and valuable than to touch a young kid’s heart and to make his wish come true today.
"To play a part in that is absolutely incredible. It’s something that brings our community closer, brings our organization closer, and brings our team closer. When we brought Atticus into the video [session] before training today and I introduced him to the team and talked about what he was going to be doing today, it was hard not to get choked up.”
Atticus's story spread around the world, including making ESPN's SportsCenter and ABC's Good Morning America. And MLSsoccer.com's Anatomy of a Goal featured Atticus's winning strike.
When asked why his wish was to play the Timbers, Atticus showed just what a special kid he is.
“Because usually kids just choose to go to Disneyland with their family or getting something and I chose something that lots of people could do,” he said.
For their efforts to make Atticus's wish come true, the Portland Timbers have been named MLS WORKS Humanitarians of the Month for May.