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Volunteer Highlight: Diego Herrera-Cortes

Diego Herrera-Cortes high fives athlete at competition

Spend a little time with Diego Herrera-Cortes and you’ll realize that he has a motto for life and he doesn’t just say it – he does it!  “The way I live my life is to be good to others!”  Diego, who is a friend to all who meet him, has been volunteering with Special Olympics Oregon for 8 years!  Diego started as an event volunteer and was quickly promoted to being a Games Organizing Committee (GOC) member.  He loved being part of the competition team, but realized he wanted even more time and deeper friendships with our athletes, so he became a coach and a unified partner! Then he added even more to his busy life – he’s a Super Plunger and member of the Young Professionals Council! We’re so fortunate that he reached out to us and became a member of the SOOR family!

Diego volunteered at a few events and quickly realized that he loved being part of the SOOR community and we loved him.  He was more than happy to be promoted to the GOC and be a bigger part of the SOOR family! He really enjoyed coordinating the Individual Skills Competitions for basketball and soccer because he got to interact with so many athletes.  Diego learned a lot about event coordination and used that for future key volunteer roles.

Diego wanted to spend even more time with the athletes so he started coaching basketball. He said, “coaching is the most fun ever!”  He also joined the softball team as a unified player for a few years.  He said this was “super fun to be on the team with our athletes!  It was also super competitive so it was a little bit of everything that I loved.”

One of the most amazing things about Diego is his friendships!  Everyone that meets him, loves him.  He has so many friends because he’s just a great guy!  Diego tells all his friends how amazing it is to volunteer with SOOR and so his friends come with him!  He has brought so many wonderful volunteers to SOOR!  Diego reaches out to people that he knows will be good for SOOR! How does he get so many friends to volunteer?  He says, “If you surround yourself with good people, they support you.”

Someone mentioned the Polar Plunge to Diego and told him how much fun it is to be a Super Plunger!  Of course, Diego was on board to  give that a try!  And four years later, he’s still plunging 24 times in 24 hours and raising funds for SOOR.  What he loves most about being a Super Plunger, is interacting with the athletes that are his Super Plunger teammates!

SOOR started a Young Professionals Council a year ago and of course, Diego was someone that we wanted in this new role.  He accepted because “it’s a great opportunity to better the overall community of SOOR and help staff develop some of the programs.” Diego knows that SOOR, like any organization, can always improve and be better.   “We can better assist our athletes,  provide better service, and make competitions better.  I want to make it more inclusive. There’s inclusivity, but there needs to be more, especially with the minority groups.”  Diego wants to figure out how to assist those who only speak Spanish and how to provide better services for athletes and families.   Through his work with the Council, he also wants to recruit new volunteers, especially coaches.  “There’s a lot of young people out there who want to help out and he wants to reach out to them.”  There are “endless possibilities!”

Diego’s favorite thing about SOOR is “our athletes and their phrases!”  They’re so fun. “I always have a great time!”  When Diego started unified softball at his old high school, “an athlete came up, gave a hug, and said ‘thanks coach this is a dream come true’!”  Diego loves it!  “That’s what it’s all for!”

This saying from Danny Trejo sums up Diego’s belief about his life, “Everything good that has happened to me has come as a direct result of helping someone else.” Hang out with Diego and you’ll see that helping spirit.  Then you’ll realize that a friendship is starting.

SOOR is fortunate that Diego lives his life by being good to others and that he has spent the last 8 years being good to us!  We hope there are many more years to come  He is a fabulous individual! SOOR is honored to have Diego as part of our family!