I was a woman on a mission Monday. I was determined to be in front of a computer when Dick & Rick Hoyt crossed the finish line at the Boston Marathon for the last time.
I first learned of their story a few years ago. It was a story that I stumbled across as I learned more and more about the countless number of Americans whom have overcome debilitating obstacles to finish marathons. I read about runners whom had suffered torn ACL’s & achilles tendons, runners whom were told they would never walk again and Tom Panek, the CEO of Guiding Eyes for the Blind, who was participating in his first Boston Marathon. Panek is blind.
And then there is Team Hoyt. One of the things I truly love about sports are the stories of athletes persevering through circumstances to accomplish their goals. This story comes to us in the form of a father-son team. If you are unfamiliar with their story then do yourself a favor and familiarize yourself with it. Rick(the son), was diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic at birth. Dick and his wife, Judy, were told by doctors that Rick should be institutionalized because he had no chance to live a normal life. Undeterred by the doctors suggestions, the Hoyts set out to provide their son with a life that included inclusion and communication.
In 1977, at the request of Rick, Team Hoyt participated in their first race. It was a five mile race that benefited a Lacrosse player who was left paralyzed following an accident. With Dick pushing and Rick leading the way, the legend of Team Hoyt was born. For Rick, the simple words but heartfelt words of ‘Dad, when I’m running, it feels like I’m not handicapped” would set in motion a drive and determination that would span four decades.
Since 1977, Team Hoyt has completed over ONE THOUSAND races including 70 marathons, 22 biathlons and 247 triathlons(including SIX IRONMANS). Oh and they biked across the continental United States in 1992, completing a full 3,735 miles in 45 days. Talk about inspirational.
2013 was suppose to be their last Boston Marathon. However, they never crossed the finish lines due to last year’s tragic events. A story of this magnitude can simply not end in that manner. So here they were again. One last time. Pushing. Persevering. Enduring. Waving. Rejoicing. Smiling.
As I watched them cross the finish line on Boylston Street one last time, the tears fell. Quickly. From thousands of miles away, I could feel the love the father has for his son. I could feel the love the son has for his father. I could see the sacrifices Mr. Hoyt has made for his son. I could see the rewards of Rick having a father that is willing to make those sacrifices. I could see not one but two heroes crossing that finish line. I could even see that through my tears.
Until next time…TOODELLS!