Friendly Wheels, Issue 75
With Dick and Rick Hoyt
Running thousands of miles together has created a special father-son bond between Dick and Rick Hoyt.
The recent completion of the 2014 Boston Marathon put a capstone on an impressive racing career for the duo, known worldwide as Team Hoyt.
Due to oxygen deprivation at birth, Rick Hoyt has spastic quadriplegia and cerebral palsy. Rick’s parents, Dick and Judy Hoyt, were advised by doctors to institutionalize him, but the Hoyts knew better.
Rick’s disabilities do not allow him to walk or speak, but the Hoyts quickly realized they were connecting with their son and had made the right decision to raise him at home.
When Rick was 10 years old, the development of an interactive computer allowed him to finally communicate. The clever invention allowed Rick to select each letter with a simple tap of a head piece attached to his wheelchair – Rick has communicated this way ever since.
The idea to start running came about when Rick was 15 years old and wanted to participate in a five mile race benefiting a student who had recently become paralyzed. Dick was not a runner at the time, but he pushed Rick for all five miles of the race.
Though they came in close to last, those first few miles were just the start of what Team Hoyt would go on to accomplish together.
After their first race, Rick said, “Dad, when I’m running, it feels like my disability disappears.” Although not a natural runner, this was all the motivation Dick needed to become one.
37 years later, Dick and Rick have completed more than 1,000 events together including marathons, triathlons and even six grueling Ironman competitions. Dick, 73, and Rick, 52, decided to make the 2013 Boston Marathon – Rick’s favorite race – their last marathon together.
Just a mile from the finish line, they were forced to stop because of the tragic bombing. Inspired to return and run in honor of those killed and injured, Dick and Rick crossed the finish line of the 2014 Boston Marathon for the last time in front of a large crowd of supporters.
When asked if he could give his father one thing, what it would be, Rick responded, “For my dad to sit in the chair and I would push him for once.” Dick and Rick Hoyt have shown many runners, parents and children what strength, sacrifice and joy really is.
Congratulations to Team Hoyt on an amazing racing career and journey together.
To check out a video about Team Hoyt, click here.