This is the amazing and inspiring story of Dick Hoyt and his son Rick, otherwise known as “Team Hoyt”.
Rick was born to Dick and Judy Hoyt in 1962. Due to a lack of oxygen to his brain from the umbilical cord being wrapped around his neck at the time of his birth, Rick was diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. At 9 months of age his doctors informed his parents he was brain dead and advised they have him institutionalized, but Dick and Judy would have nothing to do with any of that. They knew their son had the ability to learn, and they were determined to help him have as normal a life as possible.
In 1972, when Rick was 10, his parents teamed up with a group of engineers from Tufts University and had an interactive computer built. Although unable to walk or speak, this interactive computer gave Rick the ability to communicate for himself. And in the spring of 1977, after hearing about a benefit run for a local Lacrosse player who had been paralyzed in a car accident, Rick informed his father he wanted to participate in the 5-mile event. He said, “I wanted to show this person that life goes on, and he could still lead a productive life.”
Dick was far from being a long-distance runner, but he agreed to push Rick in his wheelchair and they finished all 5 miles. That night after the race, Rick told his father something that would change their lives forever. He said, “Dad, when I’m running, it feels like my disability disappears.” That single statement touched Dick so profoundly he began training and in 1981 they entered their first marathon.
As of April, 2012, Team Hoyt has competed in 247 Triathlons, including the Ironman 6 times and the Half Ironman 7 times, 70 marathons, including 30 Boston Marathons, 216 10K’s, and numerous other races and events, for a total of 1077 events in all. They even came thirty minutes away from beating the world record completion time for the Boston Marathon, a record that was set by a single runner, not one pushing a 110 pound man in a wheel chair. In 1992, they even biked and ran across the entire continental United States, a distance of 3,735 miles, in just 45 days.
Although the story of Dick and Rick Hoyt if not a new one, it is truly a timeless example of the love and devotion between a father and a son. Team Hoyt is still participating in events, but they are focusing more on their motivational speaking and the organization so have cut back significantly on the actual races they run. Considering Dick turned 72-years-old and Rick turned 50 in 2012, this is totally understandable. They have both stated that they are not ready to stop completely though. Dick has left it up to Rick, and Rick has said,
Stopping now is not an option. I’m not ready to throw in the towel and I pray to God every day that Dad is not ready either … It will be the saddest time of my life. I choose not to think about it. It will mean Dad passed away.
Watch the video for the full story of this amazing father and son team: