CenturyLink Community Game-changer winner Jake Van Baest recognized at Portland Timbers match

Van Baest of Westview High School honored for his help with Special Olympics Oregon

Community Game-changer Winner, 10.19.13

Photo Credit: 
Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

This season the Portland Timbers teamed up with founding partner CenturyLink to recognize a local youth that has made an impact in their community. There were many nominations for the CenturyLink Game-changer, and all nominees were judged on the following criteria:

  • (50%) overall selflessness
  • (25%) time spent involved in relevant philanthropic work (i.e. hours, years)
  • (25%) dedication and other related attributes in line with the Portland Timbers Stand Together Mission

The winner of the 2013 CenturyLink Game-changer contest is Jake Van Baest. Jake is a junior at Westview High School in Beaverton and was nominated by Jean Hansen, director of youth and outreach for Special Olympics Oregon.

Last spring, eight local high schools participated in a six-week Unified Sports Soccer league put on by Special Olympics Oregon. The purpose of the league was to partner an equal number of students with and without intellectual disabilities on high school teams, allowing them to play together and represent their schools.

When Jake heard about the program, he stepped up and organized the Westview team. He recruited the team and coaches, set and ran practices, communicated game times and required paperwork, and even enlisted the help of the Westview soccer coaching staff.

As part of the nomination process, submissions required a brief essay explaining why the nominee was deserving of recognition. Jean Hansen explained why Jake was nominated:

“It was the first time that Westview students with and without intellectual disabilities participated together on the same team.  Activities like this are only successful if student leaders like Jake take the lead.  Jake helped change the school community by providing an opportunity for students with and without disabilities to be teammates. Great friendships were built as well as acceptance of individual differences. Parents who attended games were thrilled to see their children compete and represent their high school.”

Jake received four tickets and VIP passes to the Timbers final regular-season game vs. Real Salt Lake. After the game, Jake was invited down to the field to meet Timbers midfielder Sal Zizzo.