Rick Hoyt’s legacy
Hoyt was born with cerebral palsy, and though his parents were encouraged to institutionalize him as he would be unable to speak or walk, they refused. Despite how doctors believed he would never be able to communicate, he learned how to read and how to communicate via a computer, enabling him to attend school. There, he became inspired by a race being held to benefit a classmate who had become paralyzed. Hoyt wanted to run the race, and he wanted his dad to help. The two ran the race together, thus beginning a decades-long running career as Team Hoyt. Though Dick Hoyt wasn’t a runner, he trained to be able to run with his son, working his way up from 5K races to marathons and more.
Three years later, in 1980, Team Hoyt ran their first Boston Marathon. They would go on to run the famed race 32 times, becoming beloved icons of the marathon. In 2013, a statue of Team Hoyt joyfully racing together was erected near the start of the Boston Marathon route. Just a week later, they were racing when the horrific Boston Marathon Bombing took three lives. Team Hoyt ran their final Boston Marathon together in 2014, though Rick continued to race for several more years with the help of Bryan Lyons. Team Hoyt also competed in other marathons, as well as in Ironman Triathlons.
Despite how experts had underestimated Hoyt’s capabilities, he graduated from Boston University with a degree in special education. He worked at Boston College, where he helped develop assistive technology for people with disabilities.
“When my dad was 36 years old and we lived in Westfield, we ran our first race. After the race, I could not wait to get to my computer to tell my father how I felt. I wrote, ‘Dad, when we are running, my disability seems to disappear.’” —from a 2021 interview with WBZ