Rule leads Pledge of Allegiance

Horizons client, employees visit state Capitol

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Bruce Rule is taking his newfound fame in stride. As he sat at the Horizons Specialized Services' Oak Street office Thursday, he just smiled and shook hands as person after person stopped to say hello to the man of the hour.

On Wednesday, Rule and several Horizons employees made the snowy trip to Denver so Rule could lead the Colorado House of Representatives in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

The night before, Rule and his mentor and friend, Mike Dwire, ironed their clothes and rehearsed the pledge. Rule had the words written on a piece of paper that was folded and dog-eared from all the times he had opened it and reread it.

Rule was nervous as he walked up to the podium on the floor of the House. Everyone's eyes were on him. Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff stood nearby with a huge grin on his face.

Dwire put a supportive hand on Rule's shoulder as everyone began to recite the familiar words.

Dwire and Rule have been together for 10 years, and Rule asked that his friend accompany him at the podium.

"The two are very close," said Horizons adult service director Roxane Miller-Freutel. As Rule started to read, Miller-Freutel started to cry. "Everyone was very respectful. It was so sincere."

After Rule finished the pledge, he walked away from the microphone and the day officially was declared Developmental Disability Day.

Rule found his way to the floor of the House thanks to Rep. Al White, R-Winter Park, who arranged the outing.

After the ceremony, White's wife gave Rule and the Horizons staff a tour of the Capitol, and Rule got a chance to shake hands with Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell.

"Bruce recognized him and walked right up to him with his hand out," Miller-Freutel said.

Rule, who is 43, has been a Horizons client since the organization began in 1975, when he was 12. Rule was born with Down Syndrome.

He moved into Horizons' first group home and, as an adult, has become something of a local icon.

"He's a character," Dwire said. "I have people come up to me all the time and ask how Bruce is doing."

Rule is always out and about and can be seen often at the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Center, training for the Special Olympics weight lifting competition or swimming laps in the pool.

He works at MDM Group Associates, a commercial insurance company, putting labels on mailings and running them through the stamp machine.

He helps to load the envelopes into the car and then drives to the post office with someone from the company.

"Then they go to lunch," Miller-Freutel said. "That's his favorite part."

Rule is the kind of guy who makes instant friends with everyone he meets, Dwire said. "Everyone loves him, and he gives it back twofold. He's the greatest guy in the world."

-- To reach Autumn Phillips call 871-4210

or e-mail aphillips@steamboatpilot.com

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