Local Special Olympics Athlete Inducted into Hall of Fame

By Hailey Chapman
Hays Daily News

Though Ryan Hoag believed he was attending a pizza and bingo party, Wednesday evening he was surprised with his official induction into the Special Olympics Hall of Fame.

Full of love and gratitude, Hoag is inductee number 191 and was praised tremendously for his character, compassion, and charisma he demonstrates to teammates and coaches alike.

Ryan Hoag shares a hug with a family member after his surprise Hall of Fame induction.

Four years ago, Hoag was a spark within distance running. In his first year he was joined by only one other athlete competing in the 1500M and 3000M races. The following year, both races were loaded with people who were inspired by Hoag’s passion for fitness.

John Lair and Brent Kaiser stand on either side of Wednesday evenings honoree Ryan Hoag. Hoag was inducted as the 191st member of the Special Olympics Hall of Fame.

“Ryan has been a catalyst for reviving distance running for Special Olympics Kansas. He is passionate about Special Olympics, one of the coolest things I’ve gotten to witness over the past five years is the dedication that Ryan has for running and fitness,” Special Olympics Western Kansas Coordinator Brent Kaiser shared of not only the athlete, but of his friend.

Along with friends and family of Hoag, CEO of Special Olympics John Lair was also present to honor their newest member of a prestigious group of athletes.

Ryan Hoag laughs as Brent Kaiser gives a speech honoring him Wednesday evening.

“This is a huge honor, we have less than 200 athletes in our hall of fame, so this is a very, very special award. This whole program, everybody does so much out here, so I wanted to make sure I was here to congratulate Ryan,” Lair said.

After accepting his award, Hoag graciously shared his thanks and praise for everyone that has been alongside him.

“I do a lot of things, I joined special olympics 23-24 years ago, loved every minute of it, love all of my individuals, love the outside individuals that I’ve made a lot of friends with, I love John Lair, I love Brent Kaiser, I love Jason Jordan, I love my grandma and all of my family, I love my other coaches, I wish my grandpa was here to see this,” Hoag shared.

Hoag is a multi-sport athlete, competing in volleyball, basketball, bowling, softball, track and cross country.

Alongside Special Olympics, Hoag also participates in the 5K Running Club, Health Messenger and Healthy Athletes Programs in order to do his part in promoting wellness for the people around him.