Richard  Ruffalo

In losing his own sight, Richard Ruffalo has helped improve
the vision of countless students. As a science teacher and coach,
Richard’s success is as a role model, demonstrating to children that
they can overcome adversity, discover hidden talents, and reach their

Having gone blind from Retinitis Pigmentosa, Richard developed other
skills, including a photographic memory and total auditory recall. He
shares his new talents with his students to show them that they have
hidden talent yet to be discovered. A member of the U.S. Disabled Sports
Team since 1984, Richard has won world titles in four different events
and has accumulated 18 national titles, nine world records, and 10 state
titles against sighted, able-bodied competitors. He currently ranks as
the top blind track and field athlete in the history of disabled sports.

Richard began teaching science in 1973 in Irvington, N.J. Since 1974,
he has been a science teacher and coach at Belleville Senior High
School in Belleville, N.J. He earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in
biology from Montclair State College in New Jersey.

Special Recognition


Disney Teacher of the Year


Inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame


New Jersey Blind Achiever of the Year Award


Academy Award of Sports “Inspirational Athlete” Victor Award


Named Disabled Athlete of the Year for athletic, civic, and professional accomplishments by the United States Olympic Committee


Princeton University Distinguished Teacher of the Year