Rick and Dick Hoyt

Perhaps the world’s best athlete is Dick Hoyt. We’re pretty sure you’ve never heard of Dick Hoyt. He doesn’t make any money from his athletic endeavors, or endorse any products. He hasn’t won any major athletic events, but he has been the subject of a profile in Sports Illustrated.

When Dick Hoyt’s son, Rick, was born 43 years ago, he was strangled by the umbilical cord during the birth process, leaving him brain damaged and without use of his limbs. Doctors told Dick and Judy Hoyt that their son would be a vegetable, and recommended that he be institutionalized. In fact, there was quite a bit going on inside Rick Hoyt’s brain; he just couldn’t communicate. But Rick could laugh at jokes, and when finally fitted with a device that enabled him to communicate by typing, his first words were “Go Bruins!”

Dick Hoyt wasn’t much of an athlete, and described himself as a “porker”, but when his son said he would like to participate in a group run, dad decided he would try pushing Rick in a wheelchair – for five miles. Afterwards, dad was sore, but Rick typed, “Dad, when we were running, it felt like I wasn’t disabled anymore!” Since that day, father has pushed a broadly smiling son 85 times in 26.2-mile marathons. Eight times he has pushed and pulled him through triathlons, including pushing him 26 miles in the marathon, towing him 2.4 miles in a dingy, and riding 112 miles with Rick on a seat on his handlebars – all this in a single day.

In 2005 Dick and Rick, then 65 and 43, finished their 24th Boston Marathon. Their best time, in 1992, was 2 hours and 40 minutes; that’s just over 6 minutes per mile. The world record is 2 hours and 5 minutes, but, unlike the record holder, Dick Hoyt happened to be pushing his 110-pound son over the entire course.

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