Dick - 1 June 1940 & Rick - 10 January 1962
The Inspiring Quadriplegic
The team began in 1977 after Rick said to his dad that they needed to do something to inspire a friend of his at school who had become a quadriplegic following a Lacrosse game accident. This gesture of goodwill was made even more amazing because of the fact that Rick himself was a quadriplegic. Suffering cerebral palsy at birth and being born with his umbilical cord around his neck caused permanent damage that would severely handicap him for the rest of his life.
The amazing fact about Rick is that although he is physically disabled, he has always been treated just as one of the other three boys in the Hoyt family. When they would go into the forest to build tree houses, the equipment would be loaded up onto Rick’s wheelchair and they would carry him, the tree house would be built as a family with Rick being the taskmaster. He did not want to go home. This inspired his father and brothers to keep building.
Not Feeling Handicapped when Running
The Team Hoyt’s first race together was in a five–mile benefit run. Dick, a retired Air National Guard Lieutenant Colonel, is far from being a long-distance runner. To prepare, he would run a couple of days a week just to keep fit and shed some weight off. He agreed to push Rick in his wheelchair for the event. When the five–mile race was concluded and they came in last, Dick—sore and aching all over—received some amazing words from Rick. His message in his computer read: "Dad, when I'm running, it feels like I'm not handicapped." Those words changed their lives forever, physically, spiritually, and in an even more profound way, emotionally.
When Dick and Rick signed up to do their first Boston Marathon they were told there were no categories for them; however, they entered the race after the wheelchair racers and came in at a time of three hours and fifteen minutes, passing by two thirds of the other competitors along the way.
Rick and Dick joined a running club and as their current wheelchair was not up to being pushed for running events, they sought the assistance of an engineer friend who built Rick a special running chair (this was before the days that running prams came about). Owing to the fact that Rick loves taking part in big events and Dick wants seeing his son happy, they decided to join more events and soon, they were running three events every weekend.
Their first ever biathlon (run and swim) together was a three–mile run and a half–mile swim. When swimming, Dick would do side stroke, holding Rick’s back and neck, a skill he learnt while serving in the National Guard to rescue people.
Dick + Rick = Team Hoyt
Three years later in 1980, The Team Hoyt—as their partnership was later on named—entered and competed in the Marine Corps Marathon despite its not having categories for competitors like them. Together, they crossed the finish line in under two hours and 45 minutes. This qualified them to run the Boston Marathon.
In 1983, a stranger approached Team Hoyt and told them, “You are quite an athlete, you should consider a triathlon.” And Dick’s reply was, “Sure, as long as I can do it with Rick.” The following year, the same man said the same thing. However, this time the stranger replied back, “Okay, let’s figure out what special equipment you’ll need.” So Rick and Dick seriously thought about how they could actually compete in a triathlon event.
Team Hoyt Joins Triathlons
Their first Triathlon was a 10–mile run, a one–mile swim, and a 50–mile bike ride, to be held on Father’s Day, 1985. During the swimming part, Dick had Rick in an inflatable life raft that he towed behind him with a swimming belt and rope tied around his chest. For the bike ride, Rick was towed behind Dick in a makeshift cart. During the marathon, Rick was pushed in the specially made four–wheel running chair. Again they finished next to last; however, the experience bonded the father–and–son relationship between them. Soon after this, they competed in their first ever Hawaii Ironman Triathlon.
The Hawaii Ironman is an event that’s challenging even to the ablest of athletes. It involves a 2.4–mile swim, a 112–mile bike ride, followed by a marathon run. It is held in the Hawaiian Island of Kona where the heat is blistering.
Their 1997 Team Hoyt's first Hawaii Ironman attempt did not go according to plan. Dick struggled in the swimming part as he again towed Rick behind him in his inflatable raft and they failed to beat the deadline. However, Team Hoyt did not lose heart and they returned to compete in the 1988 Hawaiian Ironman. Their finish was epic and the crowd and triathlon community beamed when Team Hoyt crossed the finish line and celebrated their victory with deafening applause.
Their unrelenting efforts and unquestionable devotion were captured in film and became a source of inspiration to millions worldwide. They created a buzz throughout the tight triathlete community and also in the running clubs. People were simply amazed at what the father and son team had achieved.
Since then, Rick and Dick as, Team Hoyt, have completed hundreds of other national and international triathlons. Rick has graduated from Boston University with a degree in special education, both competed and completed marathons and ironman triathlons together. They have even gone on a biking expedition together across America for forty five days covering a total distance of 3735 miles. They have joined 6 Ironman events and 69 marathons, released books, and launched DVDs.
Rick was once asked, if he could give his father one thing, what would it be? Rick replied,
"The thing I'd most like is for my dad to sit in the chair and I would push him for once."
Dick suffered a heart attack in 2003. If it weren’t for son encouraging him to run and compete with him, he wouldn’t have survived the attack as all the pushing improved Dick’s blood flow. According to his cardiologist, “He would have been dead 16 years ago because of the high cholesterol that his arteries possess.” Hence, Dick holds strongly to the belief that Rick saved his life. Now at 70 years old, Dick continues to compete in running events pushing Rick.
Every year now Team Hoyt returns to Hawaii to both participate in events as well as inspire other athletes and supporters. They have become an integral member of the Ironman family—not celebrated as the fastest, but as people who were successful at achieving life’s goals.
Today, Team Hoyt still occasionally runs in events together. They, however, limited their races to about twenty events annually. Rick, 48, lives independently in his own apartment. He has a degree in special education at Boston and his father is now one of the most esteemed motivational speakers of this century.
Together, they also established a foundation called The Hoyt Foundation in 1989. The Foundation is not for profit and its purpose is to build the self-confidence, individual character, and self-esteem of America's disabled young people by involving them in all aspects of daily life, including family and community activities, at home, in sports and other events in the community or at work across America and in schools.
Dick is Team Hoyt's voice. He holds motivational talks to world renowned athletes, social cause groups, and professional groups. The team also directly participates and assists in the promotion of many road races, triathlons and other endurance events who share their mission.
If you have read this biography in its entirety, you would surely agree that this father and son team is extraordinary. Regardless of the physical challenges, the adversities, the love the father has for his son and the joy and the inspiration the son gives to the father is exemplified in these two incredible individuals. Competing as Team Hoyt, nothing is impossible!
Be inspired by Team Hoyt with this special video!
- They have joined a total of 247 triathlons, 30 Boston Marathons, 92 half marathons, seven half ironman, 147 five kilometers run, 215 ten kilometers run and other minor competitions totaling to 1069 events.
- There most important accomplishment is about inspiring people to do what they want even if they are facing tremendous challenges and even if the odds of failing is more obvious than success.
- Inducted to the Ironman Hall of Fame in 2008.
- Rick graduate from Boston University in 1993 with a degree in special education and later worked at Boston College in a computer lab helping to develop systems to aid in communication and other tasks for people with disabilities.
- Competed in 1069 endurance events, including 69 marathons and six Ironman triathlons as of November 2011.
- Run the Boston Marathon 29 times.
- Biked and ran across the U.S. in 1992, completing a full 3,735 miles in 45 days.
- Long Beach California Jaycess Fitness Leader Award
- Superlative Performance for Courage Arete
- Western New England College Lifetime Achievement Award
- Hall of Fame Kona, Hawaii Ironman Triathlon Hall of Fame
- Sports Museum of New England Living Legends Sports Award
- International Health & Medical Media FREDDIE Award
- Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge George Washington Honor Medal
- Father and Son of the Year Award
- Ironman Canada The Crews Choice Award
- President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Certificate of Achievement
- Lombardi Foundation Champion Sports Award
- Parade Magazine Kodak Champion
- Boston Patriot's Award B.A.A
- PetroSun Independence Bowl Spirit of Independence Award
- Waltham Police Dept. True Ironman Award
- Montreal Mondial World Triathlon Strength and Courage Award
- Army National Guard of MA Parenting Award
- Exemplary Father Award
- Bud Light Ironman Certificate of Excellence Kona Hawaii
- Falmouth Annual Road Race Special Achievement Award
- Western New England College Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree
- Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries Reach for the Star Image Award
- Commonwealth of Massachusetts Humanitarian Service Award
- Lambertville, New Jersey Office of the Mayor, Lambertville, Recognition Proclamation
- Boston Press Photographers Association Sports Personality Award
- Dick & Rick Hoyt Day / Mayor Flynn, Boston Proclamation
- Santa Anna, El Salvador EL Club Triathlon Special Award
- Governor Dukakis, Massachusetts Great Seal of the Commonwealth
- Governor Weld, Boston Certificate of Completion: Trek Across America