The Story of Dick and Rick Hoyt

Team Hoyt San Diego is inspired by the father-son duo team of Dick and Rick Hoyt. In 1962, Dick Hoyt and his wife gave birth to their son, Rick Hoyt. During child birth, Rick’s umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck, cutting off the supply of oxygen to his brain. He was diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. The doctors advised Dick and Judy to institutionalize Rick because he was never going to be anything other than “a vegetable.” Dick and Judy refused and brought Rick home, to raise him like any other child.

Dick and Judy noticed that Rick could comprehend his surroundings, even though the medical doctors continued to insist he was “a vegetable.” In 1972, the Hoyts raised $5,000 through bake sales, a local dinner dance and donations from friends and family. They used this money to pay a group of skilled engineers at Tufts University to built an “interactive computer” for Rick. Rick was able to see the letters of the alphabet and select the letters he wanted by pressing a pad on the headrest of his wheelchair with his head, the only part of his body he can move voluntarily. Doing this, Rick was able to communicate and type messages. The first words Rick ever “spoke” were “Go Bruins!” The Boston Bruins were in the Stanley Cup that year and it turned out Rick was a Bruins fan.

In the spring of 1977, Rick told Dick that he wanted to compete in a 5-mile running road race to help raise money for a high school lacrosse player who had been paralyzed in a recent accident. Dick, a non-runner at that time, pushed Rick for the full 5 miles. They finished next to last, but not last. Later that night, Rick typed “Dad, when I’m running, it feels like I’m not handicapped.” And that is when it all started.

Since that fateful day in 1977, Dick and Rick, becoming known as “Team Hoyt,” have finished 255 triathlons (6 being Ironman distance and 7 being Half Ironman distance), 22 duathlons, 72 marathons (32 being the Boston Marathon), 95 half marathons, 35 Falmouth 7.1 milers, and a handful of other various distance races. Team Hoyt has a marathon PR of 2:40:47 and half marathon PR of 1:21:12. Dick and Rick are also two of only 27 total members of the Ironman Hall of Fame, carried the Olympic torch in 1996 and in 1992 they ran and rode a bike from Santa Monica, California to Boston Harbor in 45 consecutive days. Team Hoyt has competed in, and finished, more than 1,100 events. 

On April 8, 2013, a life-size bronze statue of Team Hoyt, commissioned by John Hancock, was unveiled on the lawn of the Center School in Hopkinton, just yards from the starting line of the Boston Marathon. The statue was unveiled in a 30-minute dedication ceremony. When asked about the statue, Dick said, “It [doesn’t] get any better than that. To us this is the Stanley Cup, this is the World Series[.]” Months later, on July 17, 2013, Dick and Rick were awarded the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the 2013 ESPY Awards. The Jimmy V Award is given to those individuals in athletics who have overcome great obstacles through perseverance and determination. The award couldn’t be more fitting, with Team Hoyt’s motto being, “Yes, You Can!” 

Following the 2013 Boston Marathon, Dick and Rick’s inspiration gave birth to Team Hoyt San Diego. Prior to then, the only one other Team Hoyt chapter existed (Team Hoyt Virginia Beach) Since then, additional chapters of Team Hoyt have been formed all over the United States, and in Canada. There are now a total of seven Team Hoyt chapters, including Team Hoyt San Diego, Team Hoyt New England, Team Hoyt Canada, Team Hoyt Coeur d’Alene, Team Hoyt Texas and Team Hoyt Arizona.

On Monday, April 21, 2014, Dick and Rick Hoyt ran their 32nd, and final, Boston Marathon together. Beginning in 2015, Rick Hoyt’s new Boston Marathon running partner is friend,Team Hoyt supporter, and Team Hoyt San Diego Director Bryan Lyons. Together, Rick and Bryan will carry the torch and continue the tradition of Team Hoyt’s presence in the Boston Marathon, and other races.