Pat Diller is on a quest but it’s not about being the best — it’s about being his best.

Since moving to Cascade about eight years ago, Diller and his family, wife, Jennifer, daughter ReBecca, and son, Austin, have found the town an ideal place to learn and grow.

When Pat took a position with McGraw Hill Education in Dubuque, he and Jennifer began looking for places to rent, until their home back in Indiana sold. While exploring Cascade, the Dillers stopped at Casey’s and found there was an apartment near the store to rent. “We said, ‘This has to be one of those meant-to-be things,” Pat said. “We met some people, we hung around Casey’s and talked. Everybody was really friendly and we got the, ‘Oh, you’re not from around here’ a lot. We fell in love with the community at that point.”

Pat became active in scouting, along with his son, but when Austin began his search for independence, Pat stepped back from the leadership role. He still helps with fundraising.

Then came karate.

“Our whole family six years ago started in the karate club here, and have been members ever since,” said Diller. “It was good exercise for an older, fat guy like me, which surprised me.”

He also saw the good it was doing for his children. “I saw my kids start to come out of their shell. The discipline and consistency of the classes really help inside and outside of class.

Pat hopes to test for his black belt in February, although he is first to admit the possibility is nothing he even dreamed of earlier in life.

It wasn’t so much any physical limitations Pat faced, but his sense of self-doubt. He recalled a teaching moment that occurred after he tested for his very first belt. “(The late) Cole Haan came up to me afterward and said I did a great job,” Pat said he didn’t consider himself particularly praise-worthy, but Haan taught him otherwise. “He’s the one who really started teaching me. He said, ‘It’s all about how you do, don’t worry about what anybody else is doing. It’s how you improve yourself.’ That’s what I really took to heart.”

Pat said at one time he used to react to stress differently, but the sense of wisdom and introspection that comes with age has helped him become the person he is glad to be today. “I want to be remembered as the person that smiles, laughs and jokes with everybody,” said Pat, “also as someone who cares about the community and wanted to do something about the community. I also want to be known as the person that, if you need help with something, I’d be happy to help. The willingness to help goes back to that small-town atmosphere of ‘we’re here, we’ve got to help each other out.’”