Team Hoyt is father and son Dick Hoyt (born June 1, 1940) and Rick Hoyt (born January 10, 1962), from Holland, Massachusetts, who have competed together in various athletic endeavors, including marathons and Ironman Triathlons. Rick has cerebral palsy and during competition Dick pulls Rick in a special boat as they swim, carries him in a special seat in the front of a bicycle, and pushes him in a special wheelchair as they run. Team Hoyt was inducted to the Ironman Hall of Fame in 2008.
Rick Hoyt's birth and early life
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. Many doctors encouraged the Hoyts to institutionalize Rick, informing them that he would be nothing more than a "vegetable." His parents held on to the fact that Rick’s eyes would follow them around the room, giving them hope that he would somehow be able to communicate someday. The Hoyts took Rick every week to Children’s Hospital in Boston, where they met a doctor who encouraged the Hoyts to treat Rick like any other child. Rick's mother Judy spent hours each day teaching Rick the alphabet with sandpaper letters and posting signs on every object in the house. In a short amount of time, Rick learned the alphabet.
At the age of 11, after some persistence from his parents, Rick was fitted with a computer that enabled him to communicate and it became clear that Rick was intelligent. With this communication device, Rick was also able to attend public schools for the first time.
Rick went on to graduate from Boston University in 1993 with a degree in special education and later worked at Boston College in a computer lab helping to develop systems to aid in communication and other tasks for people with disabilities.
Team Hoyt began in 1977 when Rick asked his father if they could run in a race together to benefit a lacrosse player at his school who had become paralyzed. He wanted to prove that life went on no matter your disability. Dick Hoyt was not a runner and was 36 years old. After their first race Rick said, "Dad, when I’m running, it feels like I’m not handicapped." After their initial five mile run, Dick began running every day with a bag of cement in the wheelchair because Rick was at school and studying, unable to train with him. Dick was able to improve his fitness so much that even with pushing his son, he was able to obtain a personal record of a 5 km run in 17 minutes.
As of March 2016, the Hoyts had competed in 1,130 endurance events, including 72 marathons and seven Ironman triathlons. They had run the Boston Marathon 32 times. 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.
They also compete in triathlons. For the swim portion of the triathlon, Dick uses a rope attached to his body to pull Rick sitting in a boat. For the cycle portion, Rick rides on the front of a specially designed tandem bike. For the run portion, Dick pushes Rick in his wheelchair.
A bronze statue in honor of the Hoyts was dedicated on April 8, 2013, near the start of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Massachusetts.
The Hoyts did not finish the 2013 Boston Marathon. They had about a mile to go when two bombs exploded near the finish line, and were stopped by officials along with thousands of other runners still running the race. They were not injured. A bystander with an SUV gave them a ride to the Sheraton hotel but they were temporarily separated from Rick's wheelchair.
ESPN honored Team Hoyt with the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the ESPYS on July 17, 2013.
On April 21, 2014, Team Hoyt completed the 2014 Boston Marathon, having previously announced that it would be their last.
|Ironman distances||6 (included in triathlons)|
|Half Ironman||7 (included in triathlons)|
|Marathons (Boston Marathons)||72 (32)|
|Falmouth 7 miles||37|
Total events (as of March 22, 2016): 1,130