Symbols of the Marathon
The names Dick and Rick Hoyt, sometimes known as Team Hoyt, are instantly recognizable when people discuss the Boston Marathon. They completed it together 32 times, spreading out over a period of forty years. The two also competed in a variety of other races, such as triathlons, 5ks, and Iron Man competitions. They ran in more than a thousand different competitions.
A statue honoring Team Hoyt was constructed close to the starting line of the Boston Marathon because of the meaningful effect they had on the race. When Dick passed away in March of 2021, all of that splendor of racing together was put to a stop.
Love given by a father
What was it about the relationship between this father and kid that made it so moving to other people? Theirs is a story about how the love of a parent can get them through anything for their child.
Rick was born with cerebral palsy, which caused him to be immobile from the time he was born. Because of his condition, he was unable to speak or walk normally. Instead of placing him in a facility or clinic for children with exceptional needs, the family made the decision to bring him up like they would any other child.
They gave Rick the opportunity to participate in sports, sent him to school, and kept in touch with him via a computer. One day, he approached his father with the idea of taking part in a charity race, and although Dick wasn’t in peak physical condition at the time, he consented.
Rick recalled that moment and stated that he was excited to get back home to his computer so that he could tell his father one thing. He claimed that he had been waiting for this opportunity for a long time. He told his father, “Dad, when I’m running, it feels like my disability disappears.”
That was an impactful message for Dick, and as a result, he committed to training so that he could accompany Rick to races in the future.
Forty years of love that is not conditional
Since then, those two have completed races alongside one another for a total of four decades. Dick admitted that he experienced a higher level of physical fitness and overall health over all those years that they competed, as compared to when he was 18 years old. He even pulled Rick along in an inflatable boat as he was competing in a triathlon!
The depth of his affection for his son and his unwavering commitment to doing everything in his power to provide him a life as close to “normal” as possible won the hearts of many people. People were moved by the way that this father pushed his son through all of those races, regardless of the circumstances. I don’t know what else to call it if that’s not unconditional love.
In remembrance of Dick Hoyt
Dick lived to the age of 80 before passing away. He is most remembered not only as an outstanding athlete but also as an outstanding parent. He talked about how Rick helped him become the kind of father he had always dreamed of being, and how he was able to achieve that goal because he had a wonderful kid.
On the other hand, Rick did a wonderful job of describing the valuable lesson he picked up from spending all those years racing with his father.
“Running in Boston Marathon together with my father for 32 years, I learned about trust. I learned to rely on him to endure physically for long hours so we could compete together. He was my motor. I was his heart.”
He shared thoughts above with Steve Burton of WBZ-TV in an interview after the passing of his father.
He also mentioned that his father instilled in him the importance of never giving up on his dreams and goals.
In memory of Dick Hoyt, may we all be reminded how strong love can remain, and that for the people we care about most, we are willing to go to any lengths, no matter how tough they may be.