Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Living Legend: Dick Hoyt

Folk deal with traumatic events in many different ways. Some run away from their problems, often causing bigger ones. Some crumble and accept defeat without hesitation, weakened with fear. Some access the situation and work out how to fight back. Dick Hoyt took the latter option to the extreme...

In 1962 Dick Hoyt's wife Judy gave birth to their son Rick. Complications in the birth caused deprivation of oxygen to the newborns brain, leaving their son to be born a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy; Rick had no use of his arms or legs and would be unable to speak.

Medical specialists advised the Hoyt's to institutionalise their son as he would have no chance of a 'normal' life - Judy & Dick opted for a different path.

Raising the $5000 Tufts University required to create a computer which Rick could use to communicate was no easy task back in 1972, but once achieved the excited parents anxiously guessed what their son's first words would be; Judy plumped for "Hi Mom," Dick preferred "Hi Dad", but the staunch Ice Hockey fan opted for "Go Bruins!" - cheering on his beloved Boston team.

In the Spring of '77 this young sports fan told his dad he wanted to participate in a 5 mile benefit run for a Lacrosse player who'd been paralysed in an accident. Dick set about getting fit enough and the pair took part in the event, with Rick being pushed in his wheelchair, they came in next to last. That evening the teen must have brought tears when he told his father "Dad, when I'm running, it feels like I'm not handicapped."

Rick's clearly overjoyed to be in his first race with Dad, Dick
Taking these words on board, Dick strove to increase his fitness in order to gift his son the feeling of freedom from the body that imprisoned him, though I doubt even this doting father would have guessed just how far his own body could be pushed...

That 5 mile run lead to steadily greater distances...then came marathons...duathlons...triathlons...then they even entered Ironman competitions!

Dick Hoyt pushing his son, Rick, in their first Boston Marathon (1981)
Team Hoyt have never finished last. They have completed 6 Ironman events. And. Never. Came. Last.

Rick is the driving force that keeps Dick moving. Together they have competed in over 1000 races, travelling the combined distance equivalent of 3 times around the world.

34 years on, Team Hoyt are still competing today. You can find out more about this remarkable father and son team here.

I was lucky enough to see Dick Hoyt give a talk last month and believe me, their was barely a dry eye in the room...

The Everyman Olympian & Dick Hoyt (Centre)

No comments:

Post a Comment