Inspiring Father-and-Son: Hoyt

When Rick Hoyt was born, he was strangled by his umbilical cord. As a result, he had brain damage and was unable to control his limbs. Doctors said he would be a vegetable for the rest of his life, and advised to put his parents, Dick and Judy, to put Rick in an institution.

But the Hoyts refused. They noticed that Rick’s eyes followed them around the room. They brought Rick to Tufts University, asking if there’s anything to help him communicate, but was told that ‘there’s nothing going on in his brains’. Dick didn’t buy that, and challenged them to tell a joke. They did, and Rick laughed.

And so, they hooked Rick up to a computer that allowed him to control a switch with the side of his head. Rick was finally able to communicate. When a high school classmate became paralyze through an accident, the school organized a charity run for him, and Rick typed, “Dad, I want to do that.”

So Dick, a self-described “porker” who’ve never ran more than a mile, tried, and pushed his son for five miles. “Then it was me who was handicapped. I was sore for two weeks!”

After the race, Rick typed, “Dad, when we were running, it felt like I wasn’t disabled anymore!” That sentenced change their lives. Dick was compelled to give Rick that feeling as much as he could. He trained up and became in such fit shape that they were ready to try for the Boston Marathon.

The officials were not keen on letting them participate and compete. They couldn’t fit into the categories: the father-and-son team was not a single runner, but they don’t quite fit into the wheelchair category either. For a few years, they just joined and ran anyway. Finally in 1983, they ran fast enough to qualify for Boston the following year.

And somebody said, “why not a triathlon?”. Dick had never learned to swim, and had never rode a bike since he was six. He’d have to lug 110-pound Rick through the swim, cycle and run segments of the race. Still, they tried.

Now, at 65 and 43 respectively, Dick and Rick had ran their 24th Boston marathon. Their best time was 2hour 40minutes, just 35 minutes away from the world record – a record held by someone who didn’t need to push another man in a wheelchair. They’ve done more than 200 triathlons, and grueling 15-hour Iron-man competitions in Hawaii. Some have asked Dick to try and see how well he’d do if he was on his own, but he refused. He does it purely for the awesome energy and feeling that he gets with Rick.

Dick and Rick continue to give motivational speeches around the country, and take to competing in races every weekend. “No question about it, my father is the Father of the Century,” Rick says.

“The thing I’d most like, is that my dad sit in the chair and I push him once”.

The videos are below:


A truly inspirational example of great love and self-belief. Wow.

[Story: Rick Reilly]

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