THE NEW YORK TIMES – Rick Hoyt, a regular at the Boston Marathon who competed in more than a thousand road races using a wheelchair pushed by his father, died on Monday. He was 61.
His death was announced by his family, who said the cause was complications with his respiratory system. Hoyt’s father, Dick Hoyt, died in March 2021 at the age of 80.
“When my dad and I are out there on a run, a special bond forms between us,” Rick Hoyt told The New York Times in 2009.
The pair competed nearly every year in the Boston Marathon from 1980 through 2014. In 2013, Dick and Rick Hoyt were honored with a bronze statue near the race’s starting line.
They completed more than 1,100 races together, including marathons, triathlons and duathlons, a combination of biking and running.
“I was running for Rick, who longed to be an athlete but had no way to pursue his passion,” Dick Hoyt wrote in his 2010 book, “Devoted: The Story of a Father’s Love for His Son.” “I wasn’t running for my own pleasure. I was simply loaning my arms and legs to my son.”
Richard Eugene Hoyt Jr. was born on Jan. 10, 1962, with cerebral palsy and the inability to move his limbs or speak. In 1972, he began using a specialized computer to help him communicate. His first words: “Go Bruins.”
Rick Hoyt’s first taste of road racing came in 1977, when he asked to participate in a charity run benefiting a lacrosse player who was paralyzed. Hoyt wanted to show the athlete that he, a quadriplegic teenager, was still active despite his challenges.
Dick Hoyt, 37 at the time, had not been an endurance athlete and had not aspired to marathon running. But he agreed to do the race with his son and they finished the five-mile course second to last …
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Rick Hoyt’s birth and early life
Showed why it is wrong to call a person a ‘vegetable’
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Rick Hoyt was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth after his umbilical cord became twisted around his neck, which caused the blockage of oxygen flow.
As a result, his brain could not properly control his muscles. Many doctors encouraged the Hoyts to institutionalize Rick, informing them that he would be nothing more than a “vegetable.” His parents held on to the fact that Rick’s eyes would follow them around the room, giving them hope that he would somehow be able to communicate someday.
The Hoyts took Rick every week to Children’s Hospital in Boston, where they met a doctor who encouraged the Hoyts to treat Rick like any other child. Rick’s mother Judy spent hours each day teaching Rick the alphabet with sandpaper letters and posting signs on every object in the house. In a short amount of time, Rick learned the alphabet.
At the age of 11, after some persistence from his parents, Rick was fitted with a computer that enabled him to communicate, and it became clear that Rick was intelligent. With this communication device, Rick was also able to attend public schools for the first time.
Rick went on to graduate from Boston University in 1993 with a degree in special education. He later worked at Boston College in a computer lab helping to develop systems to aid in communication and other tasks for people with disabilities.