This inspirational video is about Dick Hoyt and his Son Rick Hoyt. They are a father-and-son team, from Massachusetts who together competes in a long list of marathons and triathlons. The only thing is Rick Hoyt has cerebral palsy, caused by the loss of oxygen to his brain at birth as his umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck.
The Rick Hoyt Story
The Hoyts were told they should institutionalize the baby as he would only be a “vegetable” all his life. Rick’s mother, Judy Hoyt said, “There is no way we will ever put our son away. We love him. He is ours. We will work with him and bring him to the place where he can reach his greatest potential. We will never, never put him away simply because he is different”
The Hoyts Holding onto Hope
They would treat him like any parent would of their child holding onto the hope that inside, he was like any other child. Early on they found comfort in seeing that his eyes would follow them throughout the room. Later they determined he was just as intelligent as his two younger brothers. They taught him the alphabet, some comprehension skills and then pushed to have him enter into the public school system. They were rejected as the school authorities could not see how someone who could not communicate can learn.
After being rejected, they went to Tuft Universities’ engineering department to see if they could create a way their son can communicate. Initially the engineers said there was nothing they could do. The parents persisted and showed them that Rick was able to communicate and was able to comprehend what is going on around him. They did this by telling him a joke to which Rick started to crack up. After raising $5,000 to create the device, they eventually created what the Hoyt’s family called “The Hope Machine”, in which Rick was able to communicate by utilizing his ability to move his head to activate a communication touch pad. The screen would fill with rows of letters and when the cursor highlighted a letter Rick wanted he would click a switch with the side of his head. His first words? “Go Bruins!” (Boston Bruins had just won the Stanley Cup). So they discovered that Rick was a sports fan.
The First Team Hoyt Run
At Westfield Middle School, the gym teacher, Doctor Steve Sartori saw to it that Rick attended gym just like the other boys. Rick would do most of the activities and seemed to enjoy playing. Sartori would invite Rick to attend a college basketball and while at the game they noticed a sign that said “Run for Doogie. Use your legs to help his. Show your favorite midfield your love. Fund raiser, 5-mile race on Saturday”. It was a fundraiser for a fellow student who had recently been paralyzed in an accident. Rick told his Father, Dick Hoyt, that he wanted to participate. Dick Hoyt was 40 years old at the time and was not a runner. Most thought they wouldn’t even get close to running half the event. However Dick Hoyt persevered and was able to finish without coming in last. Rick would tell his his father, “Dad, when I’m running, it feels like I’m not handicapped.” Team Hoyt was born.
“What I mean when I say I feel like I am not handicapped when competing is that I am just like the other athletes, and I think most of the athletes feel the same way. In the beginning nobody would come up to me. However, after a few races some athletes came around and they began to talk to me. During the early days one runner, Pete Wisnewski had a bet with me at every race on who would beat who. The loser had to hang the winner’s number in his bedroom until the next race. Now many athletes will come up to me before the race or triathlon to wish me luck.” – Rick Hoyt
Rick Hoyt Graduates from Boston University
Rick would eventually graduate from Boston University with a special education degree in the footsteps of his mother. Rob Hoyt, Rick’s younger brother said, “I think Rick himself, graduating from a major university—a non-speaking quadriplegic person to graduate from college—that’s just…it still blows my mind.” Rick responds, “My hope is that by seeing what I can do and listening to my achievements, that all people—especially young people—will realize that I am just like them”
Dick Hoyt Trains and Runs for his Son, Rick
“Dick began running every day… He ran with a bag of cement in the wheelchair because Rick was at school and studying, unable to train with him” – Judy Hoyt
As of February, 2008, the Hoyts had competed in 958 endurance events, including 66 marathons, 228 Triathlons (including six Ironman competitions, 20 Duathlons, and once biked across the US.
These events were extremely difficult on their own, but Dick would have to also push a specialized wheelchair pushed for the runs, ride a specialized bike that can hold Rick’s weight and pull a special boat made for Dick during the swims.
Initially, there was much resistance:
“Nobody wanted Rick in a road race. Everybody looked at us, nobody talked to us, nobody wanted to have anything to do with us. But you can’t really blame them – people often are not educated, and they’d never seen anyone like us. As time went on, though, they could see he was a person — he has a great sense of humor, for instance. That made a big difference.” – Dick Hoyt
Other people’s perception started to change when the team finished in the top quarter of the field in the Boston Marathon of 1981.
They would soon attempt a triathlon, where the competitor had to run, swim then bike. Dick had to learn to swim just to compete. Dick would recall laughing “I sank like a stone at first… and I hadn’t been on a bike since I was six years old.”
Team Hoyt as Inspirations
Both Dick and Rick Hoyt would inspire one another.
“Rick is the one who inspires and motivates me, the way he just loves sports and competing,” – Dick Hoyt
“Dad is one of my role models. Once he sets out to do something, Dad sticks to it whatever it is, until it is done. For example once we decided to really get into triathlons, dad worked out, up to five hours a day, five times a week, even when he was working.” – Rick Hoyt
Team Hoyt has also inspired many of their fellow competitors.
“Whenever we are passed (usually on the bike) the athlete will say “Go for it!” or “Rick, help your Dad!” When we pass people (usually on the run) they’ll say “Go Team Hoyt!” or “If not for you, we would not be out here doing this.” – Rick Hoyt
Dick and Rick Hoyt are now often sought for live appearances. Dick Hoyt would say “He motivates and inspires me. He’s a very tough guy, and he doesn’t let his disability get in the way of things he likes to do,” though many would argue that Dick is the extremely tough one. Dick however remains humble and continues to lift his son, Rick as “the athlete” and would say things like “I’m out there just loaning him my arms and my legs so we can compete together”
Team Rick Hoyt and Dick Hoyt Youtube Video
With nearly 6 million views, this video has moved many hearts as it is a true testament to the power of love and hope.
When asked what one thing Rick wished he could give his father, his reply was “The thing I’d most like is that my dad would sit in the chair and I would push him once.”
- What was your reaction to the video?
- What are your thoughts on Dick Hoyt’s deep love for his son, Rick Hoyt?
- How different is Dick’s perception of his son, and of love is that of the modern world’s?