This year, one of them is a police officer helping special needs kids.
Sergeant Bob Guinan is a 30-year veteran of the San Francisco Police Department, but it's his off-duty volunteer work that's made him a star to people like Terence Hong and his mother Darlene.
"He definitely is our hero. He really is," said said Terence's mother Darlene Hong.
Guinan has helped raise awareness and money -- $500,000 dollars for the Special Olympics. The first time he participated in the law enforcement Special Olympics torch run five years ago. There was little community interest in the fundraising event, and he has the led the way to turn it into a money-maker.
He's reluctant to take credit, but Terence and his mom don't hesitate to give it.
"It's a blessing there are the Bob Guinan's of the world. The friends and families of law enforcement who have come together year after year in support of such an important organization as this," said Hong.
Fundraising efforts like Guinan's mean families like the Hongs don't have to pay a dime for Terence to train and compete, and Guinan also coaches the athletes and helps out at the games.
Darlene says the Special Olympics have filled a void in her son's life.
"I think that's the main thing, was finding something where Terence can belong. And this was it and I have to thank Bob Guinan for that," said Hong.
"It's been said that when you enhance someone else's life you do the same for yourself, and that's really what it's about," said Special Olympics volunteer Bob Guinan.
Guinan will be honored at next month's San Francisco General Hospital Foundation's Annual Heroes and Hearts Benefit, where, though he's an honoree, he will in a way, be helping raise money for another worthy cause.
But his heart belongs to the Special Olympics.
"When you see the tears in the eyes of the parents you know you've done the right thing and you go home feeling very rewarded," said Guinan.
So ABC7 news salutes Sergeant Bob Guinan for his contribution to the Special Olympics.