Every parent hopes to have normal, healthy kids one day. I can imagine the look on a parent’s face when he/she hears the child’s first words and witness the first awkward baby steps. Parents get excited to see their child perform every developmental milestone there is on the book. Fathers in particular, couldn’t wait to teach their sons to play ball, go hunting and camping, or do all those father and son bonding stuffs.
But what if you have a special child? Would you give up on these dreams? Would you love him/her less?
Parents know how difficult it can be sometimes to take care of children with special needs as they require more of everything…time, patience, strength, love… and sacrifice. Some parents go through extreme lengths just to ensure that their kid can live a normal happy life despite their condition. Dick Hoyt is one of those parents.
Rick Hoyt was born in 1962 to Dick and Judy Hoyt. Due to complications at the time of delivery, Rick’s brain was deprived of oxygen and as a result, he was diagnosed with spastic quadriplegia and cerebral palsy (CP). Dick and Judy were advised to institutionalize their child since CP is an irreversible condition and there is very little hope that Rick would be able to live a normal life.
As Rick grew older, the couple observed how bright and attentive Rick was despite the fact that he could not speak and walk. So they taught him the alphabet and took him sledding and swimming, just like a normal kid. In 1972, with the help of a group of engineers from Tufts University and approximately $5,000 dollars, Rick was finally able to communicate using an interactive computer built especially for him. However, instead of greeting his mom and dad, Rick’s first words were “Go Bruins!”, as he cheered for the Boston Bruins, which were on the Stanley Cup Finals that season. Dick realized that his son was passionate about sports.
Rick’s interactive computer helped him communicate his thoughts to people.
It was in 1977 when Rick first told his dad that he wanted to join a benefit run for a Lacrosse player who was paralyzed due to an accident. Although Dick was not a long-distance runner he pushed his son’s wheelchair and was able to finish the 5-mile marathon. The father and son team came in next to last, but that night Rick said,
“Dad, when I’m running, it doesn’t feel like I’m handicapped.”
Realizing his son’s passion, Dick accompanied Rick in the races he wanted to join.
The 5-mile benefit run in 1977
1981 – Their first marathon in Boston, Massachusetts
In 1992, “Team Hoyt” ran and biked across America for 45 days, completing an entire 3,735 miles. When joining triathlons, the tandem uses special aids in each stage of the race to help them complete the entire event – a special two-seater bike for cycling, a custom-made chair for running, and a bungee rope attached to the front of a boat for Dick to pull during the swimming stage.
Dick Hoyt carrying his son to a rubber boat.
Dick Hoyt swims and pulls his son Rick, to finish the swimming stage.
Team Hoyt’s two-seater bike
Dick Hoyt pushes Rick’s custom-built bike
Now, after more than 50 years, Rick and his father has completed more than 1,000 races (marathons, duathlons, and triathlons, six of which were Ironman competitions). He was also able to graduate from college at the Boston University in 1993, where he got a degree in Special Education.
“Team Hoyt” became Boston’s local heroes and a living testimony of a father’s determination, undying devotion, and unconditional love.
Watch the heartwarming video:
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