When team Hoyt crossed the finish at this year's Boston Marathon, it was the end of an era and part of one of the greatest stories of love of our time.
Dick Hoyt and his son Rick have become a fixture at one of the world's favorite road races, having competed for the last 32 years. What makes this accomplishment even more astounding is the way they run the race, Dick pushing his son Rick in a specialized racing wheelchair.
Rick Hoyt was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth after his umbilical cord became twisted around his neck, which caused the blockage of oxygen flow. As a result, his brain cannot send the correct messages to his muscles.
The Boston Globe reports, the Hoyt's ignored the advice of doctors who said Rick’s situation was hopeless, and instead fought to get their son access to all kinds of activities. When he was 15, Rick asked his 36-year-old father to push him in a 5-mile fundraising road race for a local lacrosse player recently paralyzed. As Rick told his father after their first run, “When I’m running I don’t feel handicapped.’’ What else could Dick do? He kept running.
Since that first race, Dick has carried Rick through 1,108 endurance events. These included 72 marathons and six Ironman triathlons. They have run the Boston Marathon 32 times. A statue has been erected in their honor near the starting line in Boston. Also adding to their list of achievements, Dick and Rick biked and ran across the U.S. in 1992, completing a full 3,735 miles in 45 days.
Dick told the Boston Globe that this would be the last of their marathons together. With Rick at 52 and Dick at 73, age is starting to catch up to this duo.
When asked by Sport's Illustrated about running on his own, Dick replied, "No way." He says he does it purely for "the awesome feeling" he gets seeing Rick smile as they run, swim and ride together.
It turns out, through the loving way Dick has carried his son through life, he's extended his own life as well. Dick had a mild heart attack during a race. Doctors found that one of his arteries was 95 percent clogged. "If you hadn't been in such great shape," one doctor told him, "you probably would've died 15 years ago."
The great love between a father and son has touched many more lives as well. As team Hoyt ran through the Boston Marathon course this April, they were followed by a continuous wave of cheers from runners and spectators.
Other dads may be great, but this one has truly "gone the distance" for his son's happiness.
Megan Wallgren is a freelance writer and mother of four energetic children. She blogs about how to wear them out at kinetickids.blogspot.com.