Rick and Dick Hoyt in Hawaii

When Dick Hoyt’s son Rick was diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy, he was devastated. But when he and his wife, Judy, were told to place Rick in an institution, the devoted parents decided to give their son a life of uncommon opportunity, inclusion and, of course, athletics. This is Dick’s story.

A son’s relationship with his father is one that can leave an indelible mark on both parties, but there aren’t many fathers – or sons – that have the ability to leave that same mark on a community of people that, too often, have no voice.

It’s a role that Dick Hoyt could never have conceived of when in 1977 his namesake, 15-year-old Rick, asked if the pair could participate in a five-mile charity run to raise money for local track and lacrosse player Jimmy Banacos, paralyzed in an automobile accident.

The request, in and of itself, was a blessing as Rick’s form of cerebral palsy rendered him non-verbal and reliant on his wheelchair for mobility. For most of Rick’s first 15 years, Dick knew his son was intelligent, but struggled to find ways to communicate with him.

“A spastic wave of his arms, a nod of his head, or a glance in a specific direction were amongst the very limited weapons that Rick has in his communications arsenal,” said Todd Civin, co-author of Rick’s newly released book “One Letter at A Time.”

A computer they dubbed “The Hope Machine” put the wheels in motion, literally. Through the Hope Machine Rick made one of his first requests of his father—a charity run to support another with special needs.

“Rick really wanted to help the lacrosse player because he understood what he was going through,” he said. “And this was something he wanted to do with me, so I thought, why not push him in a wheelchair?”

At race completion, the phenomenon known as Team Hoyt was born. Father and son found a way to connect, bond and compete, together.

Fast forward 30 years

At the time Rick published his book “One Letter at a Time” earlier this year, Team Hoyt participated in 1,003 races, including 248 triathlons, 22 duathlons, 70 marathons (including 30 in their beloved Boston), 94 half marathons, 216 10-kilometer sprints, 157 5-milers, and 152 5-kilometer races, to name a few. Their tours include “The Trek Across America;” biking through Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts for the “Axa World Ride ’95;” and a race from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C.

Dick, now 72, and Rick, 50, show no signs of stopping, and Dick’s dedication to his son is still a testament to the power of love.

A son’s relationship with his father is one that can leave an indelible mark on both parties, but there aren’t many fathers – or sons – that have the ability to leave that same mark on a community of people that, too often, have no voice.

Everyone says a child changes your life,” Dick said. “We knew that our son Rick was about to change our lives in ways we never could have predicted.”

This is Dick Hoyt’s story—Race by Race: A Father’s Love Lifts His Son. An amazing story!

Read Dick’s story

For Dick Hoyt: Part I – Race by Race, a Father’s Love Lifts Son
For Dick Hoyt: Part II – The Basics
For Dick Hoyt: Part III – Transcending Limits

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