Dick Hoyt, perhaps best known as the father of the father/son marathon duo “Team Hoyt”, has died at the age of 80.
Their story started in 1962 when a difficult birth left Dick’s son Rick with cerebral palsy. Notwithstanding the diagnosis & Rick’s inability to move or communicate on his own, Rick’s parents were determined to raise him at home & give him as much of a normal life as possible.
At age 13, after Rick was finally admitted to public school, he told his father that he wanted to participate in a five-mile benefit run for a local lacrosse player who had been paralyzed in an accident. Despite being a lieutenant colonel in the Massachusetts Air National Guard, Dick was not a runner but he agreed to push Rick through the race course in his wheelchair. That’s when a surprising thing happened during the run – Rick told his father that he felt as though he wasn’t handicapped anymore, he was simply one of the runners! This experience deeply affected Dick, and he committed to keep running with his son for as long as he could so that Rick could have this feeling as often as possible.
The number of events they participated in together quickly grew to over 200 marathons; including being crowd favorites as participants in 31 Boston Marathons &, perhaps most impressively, when they took on the Ironman Challenge in Hawaii – said to be the hardest of them all – where, when running, Dick pushed
the wheelchair for his son; while riding, he pedaled Rick on a specially designed bike with Rick in the front-seat & while swimming, he tied Rick to his waist.
They definitely exemplified their “Yes You Can!” motto, collectively and individually.
“Therefore, since we also have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let’s rid ourselves of every obstacle and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let’s run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking only at Jesus, the [a]originator and perfecter of the faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2