A Great Love Story

Whether you embrace the romance and fanfare of Valentine’s Day or you loathe the “Hallmark-manufactured” holiday, certain love stories cannot be denied. Perhaps one of the greatest and most inspiring love stories is the story of Team Hoyt:

When Dick and Judy Hoyt’s son, Rick, was born in 1962 as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy, they were advised to institutionalize Rick because there was no chance of him recovering, and little hope for Rick to live a “normal” life. But Rick’s parents didn’t listen. They took him home and worked at including him in the family, the community, sports, and education.

In the spring of 1977, Rick told his father (a non-speaking person, he communicates through a keyboard, one letter at a time) that he wanted to participate in a 5-mile benefit run for a Lacrosse player who had been paralyzed in an accident. Far from being a long-distance runner, Dick agreed to push Rick in his wheelchair and they finished all 5 miles, coming in next to last. That night, Rick told his father, “Dad, when I’m running, it feels like I’m not handicapped.”

That was all Dick needed to hear. He became obsessed with giving Rick that feeling as often as he could. Since then, they’ve done 247 triathlons, including four grueling 15-hour Ironmans in Hawaii. They have raced in 22 duathlons, 70 marathons (including 30 Boston Marathons, one with a best end time of 2:40:47), 94 half-marathons and countless other races for a total of nearly 1100 events. They even biked and ran across the U.S. in 1992, completing a full 3,735 miles in 45 days.

Two years ago, Dick realized his goal of running the Boston Marathon with his son at age 70. Rick, now 50, is a graduate of Boston University with a degree in Special Education. He has written a book called One Letter at a Time. For an incredible dose of inspiration, watch this video and then read this Sports Illustrated article about the father-son duo.

Rick has said many times that he would love to give his father the one gift he can never buy. “The thing I’d most like,” Rick types, “is that my dad sit in the chair and I push him once.”

Run toward love this weekend,


Photos from the Team Hoyt website