Dick Hoyt Pushed His Disabled Son Rick in More Than 1,000 Races
Dick Hoyt, 72, has pushed his son, Rick Hoyt, 51, in almost 1,100 endurance events and is preparing to compete in their 31st Boston Marathon.
The exact number of races they've competed in is astonishing. In total, they've completed 1,091 events, including 252 triathlons, 70 marathons, 94 half marathons, and 155 five-kilometer races. They have never finished last in any of them.
It all started when Rick told his dad in middle school that he wanted to compete in a marathon for a basketball player who was paralyzed in an accident.
"Rick came home from that basketball game and he said, 'Dad, I have to do something for him. I want to let him know that life goes on even though he's paralyzed. I want to run in the race,'" Dick explained.
He agreed to push him in his wheel chair in the race, but it was Rick's words after the race that pushed him to do more.
He told his father the night after the race, "Dad, when I'm running, it feels like I'm not handicapped."
Rick has cerebral palsy and is quadriplegic. Doctors told Dick to put him in an institution because he was "going to be a vegetable for the rest of his life."
But he refused, and never thought once of putting him in a home.
"Today, he's 51 years old and we still haven't figured out what kind of vegetable he is - and guess what? That vegetable has been turned into a bronze statue," Dick said.
The Hoyt's statue will be placed outside of Boston's Center Elementary School. It features Dick pushing Rick in his wheel chair.
Over the course of Rick's life, his parents did everything they could to make him feel like a normal person. They took him camping and skiing, enrolled him in school and eventually enrolled him in college.
Rick graduated from Boston University and is living on his own with the help of personal care attendants.
During the marathons and races, Dick pushes Rick in his wheel chair. But things get even more difficult during the triathlons, where Dick has to pull Rick in a boat by a cord while he swims, and pedals for him on a two-seater bicycle for the cycle round.
In 1989, they set up the Hoyt Foundation which has the goal of helping disabled young people participate in many activities, especially sports, school and work.
At first, Dick received many letters and phone calls from people questioning his motives.
"What are you doing dragging your son to all these races? Are you just looking for glory for yourself?" people asked.
"What they didn't realize was that he was dragging me to all these races!" Dick said.
Rick said his only wish is that he could make his "dad sit in the chair and [he] would push him for once."