Inspired By Team Hoyt
Inspired By: is a recurring series at Stop & Breathe that profiles inspiring individuals or groups. Most are not household names, but instead are everyday people doing extraordinary things.
“This is more than a story of a father’s love, though it certainly speaks to all fathers, this one included. It’s also a story of courage, the kind any of us could be called upon to demonstrate in our own lives. And if we were, we’d have two wonderful examples to follow in Dick and Rick Hoyt, both of whom I am proud to call friends.”
—Bobby Orr, NHL Hockey Great
I first learned of Rick and Dick Hoyt’s incredible story while watching the Ironman World Championships on television. Ironman triathlons (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and a 26.2 mile marathon) are considered to be one of the most challenging endurance events in sport, and the World Championships held in Kona, Hawaii have proven that year after year. What made Rick and Dick’s story so incredible was that they competed in the race as a team, with Dick pulling and pushing Rick the entire length of the race in a boat, on a specially constructed bicycle and in a wheelchair.
When Rick was born in 1962 he was diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. His parents, Dick and Judy, were advised to institutionalize Rick because there was little hope of him living a “normal” life. Dick and Judy believed otherwise, and so began their quest for Rick’s inclusion in the community, sports, education and one day, the workplace.
Dick and Judy fought to integrate Rick into the public school system, pushing administrators to see beyond Rick’s physical limitations. They would take Rick sledding and swimming, and even taught him the alphabet and basic words, like any other child. In 1972, using an interactive computer, Rick said his first words… “Go Bruins!” It was clear that Rick loved sports.
In the spring of 1977, Rick told his father that he wanted to participate in a 5-mile benefit run. Far from being a long-distance runner, Dick agreed to push Rick in his wheelchair and they finished all 5 miles, coming in next to last. That night, Rick told his father, “Dad, when I’m running, it feels like I’m not handicapped.” That realization was just the beginning.
In 32 years, Rick and Dick have competed in 1042 races together, including marathons, duathlons and triathlons (6 of them being Ironman competitions). Also adding to their list of achievements, Dick and Rick biked and ran across the U.S. in 1992, completing a full 3,735 miles in 45 days. And Team Hoyt is showing no signs of slowing down. This coming April, Rick and Dick, now 49 and 70 years of age, will compete in their 29th Boston Marathon.
Rick was once asked, if he could give his father one thing, what would it be? Rick responded, “The thing I’d most like is for my dad to sit in the chair and I would push him for once.”
Together as Team Hoyt and through The Hoyt Foundation, Rick and Dick aspire to build the individual character, self-confidence and self-esteem of disabled young people through inclusion in all facets of daily life, especially sports.
Team Hoyt have inspired me through their athleticism, their selfless and giving nature, their determination and their example of just how powerful a bond can exists between a father and son.
Please visit the Team Hoyt website to learn more about Rick and Dick, and to watch the inspiring music video created in their honor.
An in-depth profile that aired on HBO Real Sports With Bryan Gumbel can be found here.
Team Hoyt’s official Facebook page can be found here.