Following my recent posts about Cornel Munn and Nick Vujicic, I was reminded of the story of Dick and Rick Hoyt – also known as Team Hoyt. The story of Team Hoyt is truly heart-warming and inspirational.
Rick was born with cerebral palsy. His umbilical cord had twisted around his neck during the birth and the consequent shortage of oxygen caused the brain damage. But just like both Nick and Cornell, this extraordinary young man is fully engaged with life and he runs marathons and competes in Ironman triathlons in partnership with his amazing father.
Rick was inspired to begin Team Hoyt by an article he saw in a running magazine. Dick Hoyt was almost 37 years old at the time and had never been a runner. But they soon ran their first 5 mile race with Dick pushing Rick in a wheelchair and afterward Rick commented, “Dad, when I’m running, it feels like my disability disappears.” It was the first of their amazing list of achievements as Team Hoyt.
According to Wikipedia, by July 2010, the Hoyts had competed in 1032 endurance events, including 68 marathons and six Ironman triathlons. They completed the Boston Marathon 26 times and they biked and ran across the U.S. completing 3,735 miles in just 45 days. When competing in triathlons, Dick swims and pulls Rick behind him in a boat via a rope attached to his body. Then he pushes Rick in his wheelchair for the run and for the cycling leg, Rick rides at the front of a specially designed tandem.
Rick’s parents were advised by the medical profession that he would never walk or talk and the best thing to do was to commit him to professional care. But Dick says that he knew that Rick could think and understand even if he had problems communicating. He resolved to bring him up as best as he could to live as normal a life as possible.
When they rigged up a computer system that allowed Rick to communicate for the first time. They were expecting that his first words might be ‘hello Mum’ or ‘hello dad’, but they turned out to be uttered in support of his local baseball team. With the aid of the computer, Rick was able to attend school and he eventually graduated from Boston University gaining a degree in special education.
Rick says that if he could get out of his wheelchair and walk, the first thing he would do is get his Dad to sit in it so Rick could push him around for a change. They are certainly two extraordinary people.