April 23, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – For decades, Dick and Rick Hoyt have served as living symbols of father-son love, the value that a life with disabilities can have, and of the power of pure, determined grit.
Together the pair have completed some 70 marathons, six Ironman competitions, and countless other endurance events. In each of these, Dick, now 74, has pushed his son in a special-made wheelchair, or pulled him in a raft or carried him on a seat on his bicycle.
Rick was diagnosed with cerebral palsy after birth, the result of oxygen deprivation during birth.
But now an era has come to a close, as Team Hoyt, as they called themselves, ran their last marathon in Boston this past weekend.
In fact, Dick was supposed to have hung up his running shoes after last year’s Boston Marathon. However, the tragic bombing at the finish line prevented the pair from completing the race, and they decided to give it one last go.
“We’re running in honor of the people who got killed and injured,” Dick said this past weekend. “Boston is so much stronger than it was a year ago.”
The pair’s best time in a marathon was 2:48. On Sunday they crossed the finish line in over seven and a half hours.
The main reason for the end of Team Hoyt’s career is Dick’s back problems, which have made it painful for him to compete.
Rick, however, who is now over 50 himself, intends to continue participating in events, with the help of other supporters.
The father-son team began competing in endurance events after Rick told his dad at the age of 15 that he wanted to participate in a 5-mile race to help a teen who had been paralyzed as the result of an accident.
His dad wasn’t a runner at the time, but rose to the challenge. That night, after the race, Rick told his father: “Dad, when I’m running, it feels like I’m not handicapped.”
That was enough motivation to push Dick to carry on. And since then they have never stopped running.
The charity that they founded, The Hoyt Foundation, seeks, in its own words, “to build the individual character, self-confidence and self-esteem of America's disabled young people through inclusion in all facets of daily life; including in family and community activities, especially sports, at home, in schools, and in the workplace.”
Amazingly, despite the dire predictions of doctors that he would never be able to do much, Rick graduated from Boston University in 1993. He began communicating with the help of a computer in 1972.