Terry Porter, men's basketball coach at the University of Portland and former Trailblazer point guard, gave an uplifting talk. He said he was grateful to coach the young men at the university, and tried to teach them teamwork, leadership and character. (Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel)
Terry Porter, men's basketball coach at the University of Portland and former Trailblazer point guard, gave an uplifting talk. He said he was grateful to coach the young men at the university, and tried to teach them teamwork, leadership and character. (Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel)
There were a few tears amid the laughter and inspiration on offer at the Oct. 9 Champions of Faith dinner, CYO/Camp Howard’s annual fundraising bash at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland.

The crowd of nearly 900 stood and applauded in support for Sheri Dooney, widow of Sean Dooney, who died in a boating accident in May. The Dooneys were the dinner’s chairs in 2013 and 2014.

Archbishop Alexander Sample spoke, saying he believed CYO/Camp Howard to be the best-organized group of its kind in the country. Later, St. Mary of Oregon Sister Krista Von Borstel, executive director, acknowledged that CYO is the largest youth athletic league in the Northwest and one of the largest in the country. She thanked coaches and all of CYO’s supporters for making sports possible for the kids in CYO’s 40 clubs. She particularly thanked Portland philanthropist Joe Weston, who donated $1 million to CYO/Camp Howard. “We are forever indebted to him,” she said.

Connor and Kyle Garcia upstaged their parents, Michael and Michelle Garcia, the event’s chairs, showing good comedic timing that the crowd appreciated. Michael Garcia grumbled good-naturedly to the crowd about one of their lines. “The best parents you’ve ever had?” he asked them, adding that the two were “the best kids we’ve ever had.”

The money raised at the dinner goes to scholarships and capital campaigns; none covers operations at CYO or Camp Howard.

The keynote speaker, Terry Porter, University of Portland men’s basketball coach and former Trailblazer, offered an uplifting, humorous and sometimes emotional account of his own struggles. “A lot of you may know about some of my successes,” he said, “but I want you to know about the teachable moments I’ve experienced with failure.”

Porter swiped tears from his cheeks as he remembered old teammates and coaches and talked about his deep gratitude for what God had given him. He wasn’t picked for his hometown team, the Milwaukee Bucks, but came instead to Portland, where he played for the Trailblazers.

After his playing career ended, Porter coached the Bucks, the Detroit Pistons, the Phoenix Suns and the Minnesota Timberwolves over the course of a little more than a decade. As he moved his family from city to city, “I learned my family is the most important team I’ll ever be part of,” he said.

At the University of Portland, “I have the privilege of teaching young men about life, about teamwork, leadership and character, about what’s important,” he said.

Porter’s advice was timeless. “Sometimes you have to suffer setbacks before you understand what God has in mind for you,” he said. “Don’t let yourself get discouraged.”