Chicago Fire midfielder Diego Gutierrez has been voted the 2007 U.S. Soccer Foundation-MLS W.O.R.K.S. Humanitarian of the Year. Gutierrez, 34, supports more than half-a-dozen organizations on a national, regional, and local level and has helped raise more than $1 million collectively for worthy causes in 2007. Gutierrez an active role in the fight against malaria, serving as a national spokesperson for the Nothing But Nets campaign.
Working together with MLS W.O.R.K.S, the United Nations Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Fire Works For Kids Foundation, and other local Chicago sports, civic and faith based organizations, Gutierrez has formed his own Nothing But Nets fund raising team to raise money to fight Malaria in Africa.
"Team Diego" developed a Public Service Announcement that airs in stadiums nation-wide, and has helped raise over $400,000 to purchase insecticide-treated bed nets to protect children and adults while they sleep and help reduce the staggering number of deaths each day due to the Malaria outbreak in Africa.
In April, Gutierrez was honored for his work in the fight against malaria with an invitation to attend the White House.
Gutierrez also supports local Chicago organizations such as the SALUTE program of the Rehab Institute of Chicago. SALUTE, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing awareness and support of issues facing active military personnel, veterans and their families, and to provide financial support through advocacy and fundraising.
Among other involvement, Gutierrez has helped to support to the Foglia YMCA "Kids Need Heroes" program which assisted the YMCA in raising over $275,000 to help offset membership costs and program fees for those less fortunate.
Additionally, through the Lake County YMCA's and the Boys and Girls Club of America's "Dare to Dream" programs, Diego represents the Fire and serves as a motivational speaker. Gutierrez received the Fire's 2006 Humanitarian of the Year award as well.
U.S. Soccer Foundation Humanitarian of the Year Winners
2007: Diego Gutierrez - Chicago Fire
2006: Michael Parkhurst - New England Revolution
2005: Brian Kamler - Real Salt Lake
2004: Chris Henderson - Colorado Rapids
2003: Ben Olsen - D.C. United
2002: Steve Jolley - MetroStars
2001: Tim Howard - MetroStars
2000: Abdul T. Conteh - San Jose Earthquakes