Heidi Cortez is like a whirlwind racing from place to place as she gets her five children to their schools, Scout meetings, tumbling classes, sporting practices, church events and other activities.
She also owns and operates her own restaurant business with her husband, Fernando, and somewhere in between, finds the time to don a tiara and rack up hundreds of hours of community service work as the reigning Ms. Copperas Cove Five Hills.
The willowy Cortez, who stands more than 6 feet tall, admits she never thought she would enter a pageant and was full of emotions on pageant day.
“I was surrounded by very beautiful women inside and out. Their platforms of service were remarkable and would have all helped the community of Copperas Cove,” the blue-eyed beauty said.
“As the announcements were made for each placement, my nerves were just building and building with excitement for each individual, but to hear my (contestant) number called was a surreal moment. I even had to glance down at my number to confirm it was me.
“I was overwhelmed with every emotion that night. Between the new friendships made and old ones strengthened, it was an amazing night to see the support that was on that stage.”
Cortez selected autism awareness as her platform of service during her yearlong reign because she has family and close friends who are affected by the spectrum disorder.
She decided to enter the pageant to bring more attention to autism and to also support her son, Pablo, who had competed earlier in the day in the junior division.
The goal for Cortez is to raise more than $4,000 to place a piece of sensory playground equipment for autistic children in Copperas Cove City Park.
“I feel all children should have a place to encourage them to play,” Cortez said.
Cortez will host the third annual Krist Kindl Charity Pageant on Dec. 2 to benefit the project.
“I am hoping to exceed my goal and to put the remainder of the money toward more awareness programs. I will keep working at the goal until the last piece fits,” Cortez said, making reference to the puzzle piece symbol of autism.
For Cortez, her purpose in all that she does come back to her family
“I am always on the go. I love being involved in my children lives,” she said. “Without the support of my husband, none of it would even be possible.”