Athlete – Track & Field
Richard Ruffalo has won 14 international gold medals, 32 national titles, 13 USA Track & Field state titles where he competed against sighted athletes and set nine world records and 15 national records in four different events. He is a five-time Paralympian, winning medals in shot put, discus and javelin. In 1988, the United States Olympic Committee named Ruffalo the “Disabled Athlete of the Year.” In 1989, Ruffalo won a Victor Award as the nation’s most inspirational athlete. He was the first athlete with a physical disability to be inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 1994. Now a motivational speaker, Ruffalo is also a member of the National Teacher’s Hall of Fame. At the 1995 Walt Disney American Teacher Awards, he received Outstanding Coach of the Year and won the Outstanding Teacher of the Year award presented by Vice President Al Gore. He was the first physically challenged athlete to be inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 1994. Ruffalo was named American Hometown Hero in 1997 by the Children’s Miracle Network and later received the Salute to Excellence in 1998.