On a typically rainy Portland New Year’s Eve, Chuck and Laura Garfield were celebrating their eleventh wedding anniversary at the Winterhawks game with their son Charlie, who is eight years old, and daughter Clarissa, who is five.
During intermission, the family of four followed a carpet across the Moda Center ice and soon heard their names announced over the PA system as the 2015 winners of the Toyota Hockey Family of the Year contest.
The contest began in November when the team held its Toyota Hockey Family Day. That day, Hawks fanned out to Toyota dealerships across the Portland metro area to play street hockey and sign autographs in an event that officially kicked off the search for the Hockey Family of the Year. Then, eleven families were selected as finalists and were asked to create videos to tell fans their story.
As part of the contest, the Garfields’ video encouraged people to cast votes in their favor, explaining that their son Charlie had recently joined the Junior Winterhawks organization and that the Tundra would help protect them from the infamous smell of hockey gear.
“We decided to use social media and we made up a big email list so I was emailing people every day and reminding them to vote,” Laura said. “It was a long haul, it wasn’t just vote for us once, it was vote for us 30 times.”
Their viral campaign efforts paid off when they hopped into the back seat of the Tundra and rode off the Moda Center ice after winning the lease. Charlie remembers jumping up and down when the family’s name was announced, and parents Chuck and Laura expressed the family’s shock.
“It was cool to get in the truck – we hadn’t been in it. It was awesome on the inside, I was like ‘this thing is huge, it’s got a sunroof!’” Laura said.
“It was a great surprise, and it means a lot.” Chuck said. “We had friends in the stands that night, so it was lots of fun.”
Friday morning, the Garfield Family received one final surprise as they were handed the keys to their Tundra – the Winterhawks and Toyota teamed up to extend the family’s lease to two years. However, before the Garfields can drive off into the sunset, they might get a few calls from friends and family.
“We promised everyone who voted for us that we would help them move anything, so hopefully we won’t spend two years hauling furniture and loads of wood,” Laura said.
The Garfields plan to take the Tundra camping, and son Charlie has a few different hockey camps this summer and the family will attend in style in their newly-leased Tundra. Now that he has hockey gear of his own, Chuck plans to take up skating with son Charlie.
And, as their contest video said, the Garfields will definitely be keeping their hockey gear in the “waaaaay back” of the Tundra.