Portland Timbers honor local military family with a life-changing surprise

PORTLAND, Ore. - With Memorial Day earlier this week, the contributions of those who have served and currently serve in our country’s military were top of mind. While Monday was a day to reflect, the Portland Timbers used Wednesday’s match against D.C. United as an opportunity to honor and recognize members of our armed forces with Military Appreciation Night at Providence Park.

At the game, one local military family received a life-changing surprise.

Captain Thad Conwell was deployed in Afghanistan from 2012-13 with the U.S. Army, and currently serves in the U.S. Army Reserves while juggling a young family, a career as a middle school teacher in the Salem Keizer School District and a passion for coaching. While deployed he missed the first months of his son’s life as well as his daughter’s fourth birthday.

Through the USO Northwest PDX Center, Thad, his wife, Noelle, and two soccer-playing children received the opportunity to be recognized at Wednesday’s Military Appreciation Night. Little did they know, that among tickets, the match experience and gifts that something even greater was coming.

Thanks to Timbers partner Fix Auto and help from Allstate, the Conwell family was surprised during a halftime presentation with a brand new car. The joy, amazement and gratitude that radiated from their reaction tugged on the heart strings.  

“Well, this is quite an evening,” said Thad. “I just expected to have a good game and see the Timbers, it’s icing on the cake tonight. It’s definitely good times.”

The surprise of a new car couldn’t have come at a better time for the Conwell family, in need of a new vehicle to accommodate their growing family.

“I’m speechless, that’s all I can say right now,” added Thad. “Words can’t describe… My wife and I had been looking for a new car with the third one on the way, and to see this… What a great surprise.”

Timbers fans, the Conwell’s can be found watching the boys in Green & Gold on TV in their Salem home. So getting to see the team in person was a special opportunity for Thad and his family. A chance to make memories together as a family, the moments like this he missed while serving his country during Operation Enduring Freedom.

“I’m shocked, I had no idea,” said Thad after the halftime presentation. “This was just an opportunity to give the kiddos a fun evening and for [Fix Auto] to have a great automobile and all these wonderful people to help me out, I can’t thank you enough. This is really a wonderful evening.”

So, who gets to be the first to drive the new family car?

Thad answered, “Well, I’ll probably let my wife Noelle drive, she’ll enjoy it.”