Rick Hoyt dies at 61

| May 25, 2023

A departure today – someone who wasn’t a vet (although his father was) and certainly never could have been – Richard Hoyt, aged 61, died Tuesday of respiratory complications. You may not know of him by name, although in some sports circles Team Hoyt was legendary.

Rick was born with cerebral palsy and was paralyzed. In 1977, he begged his father, Dick Hoyt, an Air Guard  Lieutenant Colonel, to push his wheelchair through a charity 5K run. Dick continued to  – for 39 years.

As a quadriplegic, doctors advised his parents he’d be better served living in an institution. They refused.  Rick graduated with a degree from Boston University in 1993.

Progressing to be lieutenant colonel of the Air National Guard, Dick only found endurance sports through Rick’s insistence, when his teenage son persuaded dad to take him on a five-mile run to fundraise for a lacrosse player who’d been paralysed in an accident.

On completing that first event, Rick is quoted as saying: “Dad, when I’m running, it feels like I’m not disabled.”   Triathlon.com

They would go on to complete over 1,100 events, and even bike/ran 3735 miles  across the US in 45 days together. From Wikipedia, a partial list of races:

  • 257 Triathlons
  • 72 marathons (including 32 Boston Marathons)
  • 97 half marathons
  • 219 10Ks

Some serious endurance athleticism, especially given that the father took it up at the tender young age of 36.   Wikipedia

One of their last Bostons was 2013, the year it was bombed – their last together was the year after, when the “Boston Strong” marathon was run.

Rick would continue, with the late Bryan Lyons, also from Massachusetts, a loyal friend and fundraiser, pushing for the next five years.

Dick Hoyt died in 2021.

“He was a competitive son of a gun. As late as 2019, I’d have conversations with him about his desire to do Kona ‘one more time.’ He knew his body wasn’t up to it, but the heart and desire was there. He’d talk about finishing 1,200 races, always jokingly acknowledging that Rick finished each one ahead of him.”  Triathlon.com

Well, Rick passed on this week. The last of a team who inspired physically challenged athletes for over four decades. I hope Rick is discovering the joy of really running on your own, and I’m willing to bet Dick will pace him all the way.

 

Category: Fair Winds and Following Seas

8 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
President Elect Toxic Deplorable Racist SAH Neande

Damn allergies!
Where’s the kleenex?
RIP both father and son.

AW1 Rod

Outstanding story!

Veritas Omnia Vincit

Thank you for posting, we knew this team well being here in Western Mass they were covered pretty regularly.

A truly inspiring story and one that makes the eyes wet in my old age….may they both rest in peace for all of eternity together.

MustangCPT

I remember seeing videos of this pair and all I can say is, Lt. Col. Hoyt epitomized what a father should be. I did not know the story of what led Rick to want to start racing with his father. Finding out that it was a charity run for someone speaks volumes to Rick’s character and a genuine concern for others, even though he faced and lived through his own challenges. I remember reading about the Colonel’s passing in 2021 and am saddened to hear of Rick’s passing. However, I do believe that they are now together so it’s bittersweet. RIP to you both, father and son.

KoB

God Speed, Fare Well, and Rest Easy, Good Sir. An inspiration and role model to many who do not accept a “handicap”.

And to LtCol Dick…you, Sir, are the epitome of what being a Dad is all about.

I Salute you both.

poetrooper

As related here previously, Miz Poe’s older brother was born with severe CP in 1943. The West Texas doctors advised his parents to institutionalize him as he would never lead anything close to a normal existence.

His defiant parents, of hardy Texas ranching stock, chose instead to raise him in their home. Despite his severe physical limitations and speech impediment, he had a first rate mind, going on to earn multiple degrees and seeing much of the world while living with his oil patch family in the Middle and Far East.

In his parents’ declining years he became his baby sisters’ responsibility and we brought him with us on our final retirement move, where he passed this past October at the age of 79, a remarkable longevity for someone with severe cerebral palsy. Recently his ashes were scattered high in the beautiful mountains of southern New Mexico, commingled with those of his beloved kitty, Bobbi McGee, who preceded him in death.

Not a bad life for someone whom the medical community wanted to condemn to a brief institutional existence at birth, hmm?

Last edited 8 months ago by Poetrooper
Green Thumb

Bad ass.

Rest well.

Graybeard

This is what love looks like.

God bless their family and friends.