PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — If you’ve ever gone to a Portland women’s basketball game, it’s hard to not notice the cheering section on the floor directly across from the Pilots’ bench.
“This program to get us out is almost a lifesaver to me because I need to get out and do things,” said Marquis Piedmont resident Patrick Krasnoff.
“It’s good for me because I love people,” said fellow resident Addie B. Wallace. “When I get there, I just get excited.”
Addie and Patrick are two members of the Marquis Piedmont’s Pilot Pals program, which began at the senior assisted living home in 2019.
It pairs a resident up with a Portland Pilots women’s basketball player and has grown to the residents attending nearly all of Portland’s home games and watching every road game on their projector screen.
“It’s wonderful, it really is,” said Addie of the program.
“Oh wow, a lot because I have no one who comes and visits me,” said Patrick of what Pilot Pals means to him. “When I get there and the girls say hi, it’s a recognition type thing.”
The players also recognize the impact they are making on their neighbors, who live about 10 minutes away from UP.
“The relationship that we have with them is pretty special because every time we go to their home or go and high-five them after the game, you can just tell it kind of makes their day,” said guard Kelsie Lenzie.
“Just to know that they have that love for us, and just to be able to give back to them, it’s just really neat. It’s a feeling you don’t get a lot,” said guard MJ Bruno.
The program though doesn’t just help the residents. It’s a two-way street.
“It’s so nice to know that they’re always going to be at our home games, and it just gives us that special feeling of we know they’re going to be there, we know they’re going to root us on,” said Lenzie.
“It puts a smile on my face,” said Bruno. “Every time before the warmups even start, I’m looking to the corner. I know exactly where they sit. Every time, I’m like, ‘Is my boy Pat here?’ He’s just my sunshine, and I want to give him the smile that he gives me.”
Addie, truly, sums it up best.
“It feels like it’s family, you know?”