Varied interests fuel the Thao family

Meet Soua, Moua, Kayli, Matthew, Eleana and Alissa Thao.

Soua met Moua Lor-Thao almost 20 years ago in a chance meeting at Three ‘M’ Park on Wausau’s west side. Both were visiting the park with a shared group of friends when they were introduced. The couple dated for several months before they were married.

Soon after their marriage, the couple moved to Moua’s hometown of Kansas City, a place that was foreign to Soua. “I left my family and home behind in Wausau and took a chance.” said Soua. “I had no idea what kind of place Kansas City was.”

“We moved back to Wausau because we both felt that it was a good place to start a family.” Moua said. “Having raised three beautiful children here, we don’t regret that decision.”

That chance meeting in 1998 has led to a happy marriage of more than 19 years for the couple.

Soua returned to school following the births of her first two children, Kayli and Matthew. “I attended Northcentral Technical College and graduated with an associate’s degree in early childhood education.” explained Soua. “I then completed my bachelor’s degree in human services through Upper Iowa University.”

“I have worked with children and families for more than 15 years in Marathon County.” Soua’s first position after returning to the area from Kansas City was in the Family Literacy program, administered through Northcentral Technical College. She has been in her current role with Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin-Community Services for more than 10 years.

Moua has been employed as a fork lift operator at Kolbe & Kolbe in Wausau for more than 15 years.

“He never had a chance to return to school as he had to provide for our family and support me through my schooling,” said Soua.

One of Moua’s favorite hobbies is disc golf, and his interest in the sport has allowed other family members an opportunity to enjoy the scenery as he plays.

“We’ve traveled as far as Kansas City so that Moua can disc golf.” said Soua. “While he played, we walked and enjoyed nature!”

“As a family, we love spending time with each other and other family members, both in Wausau and out of town,” said Moua. “No matter how far we live from each other, we still find time to see each other.” The Thao family thinks that family is an important part of everyday life and enjoys trips to Minnesota and Tennessee to visit relatives every year.

The family also likes to go camping, to travel, and to host game nights and movie nights. “The most important thing is just doing things as a family.” added Soua.

Kayli and Matthew are students at Wausau East High School and both are active in sports. Kayli has played volleyball since the fifth grade, while Matthew plays soccer, beginning in grade school on Wausau United and now for Wausau East. Matthew also plays basketball, often meeting up with friends at the YMCA to play.

Kayli has participated in the Upward Bound program. The program is a six-week academic program held at UW-Stevens Point that gives students a taste of the college experience. Kayli also works part-time at a restaurant in Wausau.

The second youngest in the family, Alissa, loves running. “She hasn’t worked up the courage to run track at school, but enjoys time with just mom and dad at home, because her older siblings aren’t around to bother her!” said Soua.

The family added a daughter, Eleana, in 2019.

In 2012 the family had a very memorable experience. Moua’s dad was separated from his family during the war in Laos. This separation endured for more than 30 years. The family finally met Grandpa Nhia Bee Lor when he finally arrived in the United States and was reunited with his family. The family had just started to grow close to him when he passed away in 2016.

“We were loved by him as if he has always been with us. Even though we only had a few years to spend with him, we will forever remember those four years” said Soua.

“I am glad I got a chance to meet him.” said Matthew.

“We have awesome neighbors in our east side neighborhood.” said Soua. “Most of the families here have children around our kids’ ages. It’s a very diverse neighborhood and that is what I love about it.”

“It is quiet, friendly, peaceful, private and safe.” said Moua. “It’s the kind of neighborhood where people wave ‘hi’ as they pass each other on the road. It’s the kind of neighborhood where, when there’s a heavy snow, everyone helps each other shovel.”

The children in the Thao family often ask for a dog, but the family hasn’t taken that plunge, yet. “I believe it is still on their wish list.” said Moua.

The family’s tries to live by a pair of sayings: ‘Whatever you do, you need to put 110% into what you are doing!’ and ‘Time does not wait for you.’

This article initially appeared in Wausau Neighbors magazine, Best Version Media

Photos by Portraits by Tiffany/Graphic Impressions Photography LLC

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