marathon runners
Leah Berenson
Leah Berenson
April 5, 2024 ·  4 min read

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

Parents often go to great lengths for the sake of their children. They work hard to ensure their children are happy and feel loved. Dick Hoyt was no exception. This inspirational man ran marathons while pushing his son’s wheelchair. He passed away last year. Nevertheless, his story is incredibly telling of the love he had for his son.

The Inspiration for Dick Hoyt’s Contributions

Rick Hoyt, born in 1962 was the first-born son of Dick and his Wife, Judy. Rick was diagnosed with spastic quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy after birth. The umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck causing a loss of Oxygen that resulted in brain damage. Often, this is the most severe manifestation of Cerebral Palsy. Muscle tone is abnormal and increased oftentimes causing stiff muscles or muscle spasms. As a result, people suffering from this condition often have difficulty walking and become wheelchair-bound. Additionally, they can struggle with communication, can be hearing impaired, and suffer from incontinence. However, this didn’t prevent Dick Hoyt and his family from doing big things.

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A Kindhearted Action

In 1977, Rick came to his father in Spring with a request that no one, including Dick could have predicted. He wanted to participate in a 5-mile benefit run. A Lacrosse player had become paralyzed in an accident and Rick wanted to do his part to help. Despite Dick Hoyt’s training in the Air National Guard, he was not a long-distance runner.

As a result, the task of running a 5-mile marathon likely seemed daunting to him. However, nothing would prevent this loving father from doing all he could for his son. Additionally, it’s incredibly touching when someone plagued with so many struggles can empathize with the struggles of others. Although they nearly came in last place, the pair did finish their first 5-mile marathon.

Read: A father who lost his son in a vehicle accident has dedicated a particular spot to his memory along a lonely road

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Conversation that Kicked off Adventure

That night Dick Hoyt and his son had a conversation that would forever change both of their lives. The young man exclaimed to his father, “Dad, when I’m running, it feels like I’m not handicapped.” From then on Dick set out to help his son accomplish his dreams. After their conversation, the pair became Team Hoyt, a Boston marathon team.

Together the father-son duo participated in marathons, duathlons and triathlons, and 6 Ironman Competitions. Dick Hoyt was an incredible father who wanted his son to have the highest quality of life possible. Team Hoyt’s official 1,000th race was the 2009 Boston Marathon. The Boston Marathon has an extensive history beginning all the way back in 1897. It is Rick Hoyt’s favorite race and said that being out there with his dad “made them feel closer to each other.”

Dick Hoyt’s Grand Adventures

Because they participated in several types of competitions, there was more than just running involved. As a result, Team Hoyt had to get creative. Dick would pull Rick in a boat attached by a bungee cord, for swimming, and during bike rides the pair would use a specially designed 2-seater bike. However, for the running portion, Dick Hoyt would push his son’s wheelchair while running. The Massachusetts natives’ story would travel around the world, and they would be honored in numerous and flattering ways.

Honoring an Inspirational Team

In 2008, Team Hoyt was inducted into the Ironman Hall of Fame. Again, in 2013, the pair would be honored twice more. In April a bronze statue of the team was dedicated in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, near the start of the Boston Marathon. Later in July, they were honored with the Jimmy V Perseverance Award from ESPN. Much to the dismay of those who’d been following their story, the pair announced in 2014, their last race together would be that year’s Boston Marathon.

Family Foundation

Today, Dick Hoyt is remembered for being a loving and devoted father. Additionally, he’s known for his other contributions including his family’s foundation. The Hoyt Family Foundation has raised funds for to further awareness of Cerebral Palsy. They also provide grants to families with children who have disabilities. These grants, in honor of Dick Hoyt, allow families to buy the supplies needed so their children can easily integrate into society.

In March of 2021, Dick Hoyt passed away at the age of 80 but not before leaving a lasting impression worldwide. Together he and his son, Rick, completed over 1,000 races together. Dick Hoyt’s story is one that will remind children everywhere that love and support exist, and each child is special just as they are. Meanwhile, Rick Hoyt’s story will inspire children with disabilities to overcome their daily struggles and follow their dreams. Today Team Hoyt continues Dick’s legacy.

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  1. Team hoyt continues runner Dick Hoyt’s legacy.” Mass Live. Dave Canton. March 19, 2022.
  2. Boston Marathon icon Rick Hoyt announces retirement.” Boston. Christopher Gavin. October 8, 2021.
  3. The inspiring story of Rick and Dick Hoyt. Triathlon Inspires. Retrieved November 17, 2022.
  4. Rick Hoyt, who became a fixture in Boston while being pushed by his father, retires from the marathon.The New York Times. Victor Mather. October 11, 2021.
  5. Boston Marathon Icon Dick Hoyt has died at age 80.” CNN. Rebekah Riess and Christina Maxouris.  March 18, 2021.
  6. Who was Dick Hoyt and how did he die?The Sun. Katrina Schollenberger. March 21, 2021.