Ryan loves running! I remember his first race as little boy wondering “Is it possible for him to finish?” I wasn’t quite sure he’d cross the finish line, but he did, and I was there to greet him as he beamed a smile of accomplishment. And, as he’s grown over the years, we’ve run longer races crossing the finish line together. As I was reading a recent article about Team Hoyt (Dick, 72, and his son, Rick, 50) with a racing career spanning four decades, I was reminded: Anything is possible.
Their stats are impressive. Team Hoyt has competed in more than 1070 races including 247 Triathlons, 22 Duathlons, and 70 Marathons including 30 Boston Marathons. However, what I find truly inspiring is not the number of races, but what Rick typed to his father after the first one: “When I am running, it feels like I am not handicapped.”
Rick Hoyt Born was with spastic quadriplegic and cerebral palsy and is also nonverbal. He faced insurmountable odds. Institutional placement was the option doctors presented to his parents, along with a message of “no hope” for their son. The Hoyt family disagreed. Their faith and determination for their son to lead as normal a life as possible made saying “yes, we can do this” the only answer. Little did they know, their journey would take them across 1000s of finish lines together.
The father and son duo began competing in road races in the late 70’s, before the racing community considered participants in wheel chairs. Rick wanted to participate in a 5-mile run to benefit someone who had been paralyzed. Dick had no running experience, but he pushed his son in the race anyway. They finished next-to-last. From that day on their story grew into something remarkable. And it was proven again in 1993 when Rick graduated from Boston University with a degree in special education.
Today, Team Hoyt has become the face of the Boston Marathon; inspiring families, individuals and corporations internationally. Ryan and I are not running marathons, but the Hoyt’s message of “yes, you can” says to me that whatever challenges cross our paths we face them together, head on, regardless of the perceived difficulty because anything is possible.