Locals honored with Special Olympics Hall of Fame

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT)-- Sports can mean a lot more than just a work out for some people. For two people here in the Grand Valley, sports brought them to the Hall of Fame, but also, to their passion.

Michael Ruspil is a coach and volunteer for the Special Olympics.

"I have seen incredible athletic feats by people who at one point in time were told they would never walk, and they would never play on a field,” said Ruspil.

Tori Smith is an athlete, but not just any athlete, she’s the Colorado Special Olympics Female Athlete of the year.

"It's really an honor to be chosen for these things," said Smith.

Ruspil has been volunteering with the Special Olympics for over 40 years.

"I've coached a lot of sports," said Ruspil.

And now, Ruspil and Smith will be inducted into the Special Olympics Hall of Fame.

“I never thought I'd get to this hall of fame-inductee point in my life," said Smith.

The Special Olympics brought her to her passion, her skill and to really know herself.

"I've struggled off-and-on for years with my disability of body image,” said Smith. "When I started with Special Olympics, I was this angsty, hard, shell of a person. I didn't know who I was."

Once she found her niche, it’s been a success story ever since. Ruspil began volunteering when he was 17. On a run with a teacher, he was inspired to start coaching.

"This started on a seven-mile run, and I'm still involved in that run 42 years later," said Ruspil.

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