Ruschelle Tyvand made my entire May of 2019.
Actually, she might have made my whole year with two words at the Special Olympics Area Games at the Charlie Merrifield Track.
“You’re awesome,” Ruschelle said.
“Thanks,” I said, accepting that Ruschelle was speaking accurately. “You’re awesome, too.”
Then, Ruschelle noticed I brought my camera so I could post some pictures of the event on ButteSports.com.
“You brought your camera,” Ruschelle said. “You’re awesome.”
I am here to tell you, nothing makes you feel better than someone telling you that you are awesome.
It could be anyone who says it. When it is someone as genuine as Ruschelle, though, you are on top of the moon.
The feeling is, well, awesome.
I left the track that day feeling like a million bucks.
Ruschelle was a competitor at the Area Games, and she added to her huge collection of Special Olympics medals.
She won so many medals over the years that she was picked to be a global messenger for the Special Olympics. She even spoke at a news conference leading up to the Special Olympics Montana State Basketball Tournament last October.
Most people in town know Ruschelle. She has been a friendly face greeting guests to McDonalds in Butte for many years.
In addition to her many Special Olympics medals, Ruschelle holds the unofficial world record for brightening days with a smile or a compliment.
She is the perfect face to represent the perfect games.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus has put a damper on the Special Olympics this year. Every event has been canceled over the spring and summer. That includes the Area Games track meet.
The next event, if it is allowed to be held, will be the Special Olympics Montana State Basketball Tournament, which is scheduled to be held in Butte for the second of a three-year run in November.
We have all suffered without sports this spring. The high school athletes and Little Leaguers are losing out on a beautiful spring in Montana.
Such a loss is probably even more difficult for Special Olympians. Those athletes look forward to their events like no other.
Anybody who witnessed the opening ceremony for the basketball tournament last November can tell you that. For the Special Olympians competing in that even, it was the Super Bowl, World Series and Christmas all rolled into one.
It might have even been bigger than all of those.
Competing in the Special Olympics is a time when the athletes truly get to feel special. For many, it might be the only time.
They get to forget about the struggles of everyday life, and they get to Olympians.
Those Special athletes are also an inspiration to all of us. Every person, athlete or not, can learn something from them. They embody what sports is supposed to be all about and so much more.
If Special Olympians ran the world, there would be no such thing as war.
Refereeing the basketball tournament last November might have been the most fun I have ever had.
The toughest call I had to make was forcing a young player who really wanted my whistle to wait until after the game. His parents must have been thrilled with me for handing over that noisemaker after the final buzzer.
Being a part of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Montana in 2018 and 2019 was probably the biggest honor of my life.
The Torch Run raises money to put on Special Olympic Events. It also helps raise awareness for the Special Olympic movement worldwide.
The coronavirus changed the Torch Run this year, but it certainly could not stop it. Actually, it added miles to it.
Instead of the Butte group running the torch in a relay from Three Forks to Butte on Interstate 90, runners logged their own miles running all around Southwestern Montana over about a month.
The smart money is on Eddi Walker, who has been carrying the Torch for about 25 years, logging in the most miles.
Ryan Hardy, however, is blowing away everyone on the Butte team as far as money raised.
Other runners include Richie O’Brien, Jeff Williams, Tim Berger, Chad Kriskovich, Steve and Dan Honer, Jennette Miller, Cole Conway, Michelle Knopp, Barbara Tymofichuk and Bill and Michelle St. Pierre.
As of Monday night, they have raised $1,143, and that is not nearly good enough. Glacier County is leading the state with $2,831, built the race from Billings to Big Timber has raked in $2,477.
The “V” is flashing for victory on the Big M every night as a show of solidarity during the pandemic. Every other house in town has a sign that says “Believe in Butte.”
Now is the time for us all to put our money where our signs are and sponsor these runners. Click here to donate to the team. Checks can also be dropped off at the Butte Broadcasting studios (660 W. Dewey).
Show your support for our Olympians and help make sure their return from the pandemic is even more special than before.
Coming from behind to knock off Kalispell and Billings for the top spot would be truly awesome.
Do not take my word for it. Just ask Ruschelle.
— Bill Foley writes a column that usually appears Tuesdays on ButteSports.com. He plans to write more frequently during the coronavirus lockdown. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74.