person in wheelchair in marathon
Leah Berenson
Leah Berenson
May 25, 2023 ·  5 min read

Rick Hoyt, Who Competed in Races with His Father, Dies at 61

When Rick Hoyt was born, in 1962, he faced life-altering complications. He was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, cutting off his oxygen supply. This caused permanent damage, and he was diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. However, he lived an inspirational life as a Boston Marathon legend, proving that love and determination can carry one to unimaginable heights. Sadly, he passed away at 61 years old, but his memory will likely live on forever.

Rick Hoyt Presents Something Life Changing

Rick Hoyt came to his father, Dick Hoyt, in 1977, explaining that he wanted to run in a marathon. The marathon was a charity to help a lacrosse player who had been paralyzed in an accident. Rick’s goal was to show people it’s possible to enjoy life and do things, regardless of one’s physical state.

Despite his apprehension, the loving father agreed to push his son’s wheelchair for the race. Young Rick Hoyt enjoyed the ride/run so much that he convinced his father to do it again and again. The pair competed in more than 1,000 races throughout their partnership. “Dad, when I’m running, it feels like I’m not handicapped.” Rick told his father. The duo was inducted into the Ironman Hall of Fame in 2008. They were also honored with a bronze statue that was erected in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, near the start of the Boston Marathon, in which they completed more than 30 races.

Rick Hoyt Passes Away

Sadly, at 61 years old, Rick Hoyt passed away just two years after his father’s death. His family announced his death on Facebook, stating, “It is with profound sadness that the Hoyt Family announces the passing of our beloved brother and uncle, Rick Hoyt this morning.” said his siblings. “As so many knew, Rick along with our father, Dick, were icons in the road race and triathlon worlds for over 40 years and inspired millions of people with disabilities to believe in themselves, set goals and accomplish extraordinary things.”

Further explaining, “Rick was also a pioneer in education. His mother Judy Hoyt changed the laws allowing her son to be educated alongside his non-disabled peers. His family is heartbroken and requests time to grieve and will share details as they become available.” 

Amazingly, when Rick’s father announced his retirement, other athletes stepped up to keep Rick in the race. He went on to do 4 more Boston Marathons before announcing his own retirement in 2021.

Honoring Rick Hoyt’s Memory

The Hoyt family has been preparing for the first ever, Dick Hoyt Memorial Road Race. However, they abruptly reconsidered with the unexpected news of their beloved brother. After taking some time to weigh their options, the family has chosen to move forward with their plans. And will be adding a special tribute honoring Rick’s memory.

Russ Hoyt shared that people everywhere have been inspired by his family’s story. “It turned their life around,” Russ disclosed. “They started to run, they started to make an effort to do something to make their life better because they were inspired by them.” In fact, their story didn’t just inspire others, the duo also inspired their own family. Troy, Rick’s nephew said, “Ever since I was younger just watching them cross the finish line year after year for the Boston Marathon, I was like you know what I’m going to do that one day.” Troy was scheduled to push Rick for the memorial race but will now have to honor his memory on a solo run.

Image Credit: Hoyt Foundation | Facebook

Touching Acknowledgments

The director for the Boston Marathon, Dave McGillivray, commented on the loss. He stated that Rick Hoyt was, “one of the most inspirational heroes this world has ever known.” He released a written statement in which he addressed the tragic passing of Rick Hoyt, and the lessons he taught the world during his life. “Sadly, Rick Hoyt passed away peacefully today and is now back with his father, Dick. It’s hard to believe they both have now passed on, but their legacy will never die. Dick and Rick Hoyt have inspired millions around the world.  I was so fortunate to have known them and to have been a friend of theirs for over 40 years and even to have been their manager at times.”

We all will truly miss Rick as we have missed his father, but we will never, ever forget the gift they both left all of us — that we all can overcome obstacles and we can accomplish special things in our lives that have positive impacts on other people’s lives.” he continued. “We will always be grateful, Rick, for your courage, determination, tenacity and willingness to give of yourself so that others, too, could believe in themselves, set goals, and make a difference in this world as you have.”

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by The Uncommonwealth (@the_uncommonwealth)

Establishing a Worthwhile Foundation

When Rick Hoyt was diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy, his family had no idea how their future would unfold. The family overcame many of the obstacles that families everywhere struggle with. All the while cultivating a loving and supportive environment in which their family could thrive.

Later, in 1889, they took that love and support and created a way to encourage people and families all over the nation. Today there are 9 teams who compete and advocate for those learning to live with these kinds of debilitating conditions. The Hoyt Foundation is a non-profit, “to aspire to and build individual character, self-confidence, and self-esteem of disabled young people of America through inclusion in all facets of daily life, such as family and community activities, especially sports, at home, in the workplace, and in schools.”

Amongst offering other life changing opportunities, the foundation takes part in pairing able bodied runners with wheelchair bound participants. Rick Hoyt and his family have undoubtedly made the world brighter. And his memory will continue to do so, inspiring people every day to overcome any obstacle.

Keep Reading: A Tribute to Dick Hoyt, The man who pushed his son around the world, in more than 1000 marathons and triathlons


  2. Rick Hoyt, Boston Marathon icon, dies at 61, ‘One of the most inspirational heroes’CBS. May 23, 2023.
  3. Rick Hoyt, whose late father pushed him through decades of Boston Marathons and other races, has died at 61. CNN. Sara Smart. May 23, 2023.