Eighty-five times he's pushed his disabledson, Rick, 26.2 miles in marathons. Eight times he's not only pushed him 26.2miles in a wheelchair but also towed him 2.4 miles in a dinghy while swimmingand pedaled him 112 miles in a seat on the handlebars--all in the same day.
Dick's also pulled him cross-countryskiing, taken him on his back
mountain climbing and once hauled himacross the U.S. on a bike. Makes taking your son bowling look a little lame,right?
And what has Rick done for his father? Notmuch--except save his life.
This love story began in Winchester, Mass., 43 years ago, whenRick was strangled by the umbilical cord during birth, leaving himbrain-damaged
and unable to control his limbs.
``He'll be a vegetable the rest of hislife;'' Dick says doctors told him and his wife, Judy, when Rick was nine monthsold. ``Put him in an institution.''
But the Hoyts weren't buying it. Theynoticed the way Rick's eyes followed them around the room. When Rick was 11they took him to the engineering department at Tufts University and asked if there wasanything to help the boy communicate. ``No way,'' Dick says he was
told. ``There's nothing
going on in hisbrain.''
"Tell him a joke,'' Dick countered.They did. Rick laughed. Turns out a lot was going on in his brain.
Rigged up with a computer that allowed himto control the cursor by touching a switch with the side of his head, Rick wasfinally able to communicate. First words? ``Go Bruins!'' And after a highschool classmate was paralyzed in an accident and the school organized acharity run for him, Rick pecked out, ``Dad, I want to do that.''
That day changed Rick's life. ``Dad,'' hetyped, ``when we were running, it felt like I wasn't disabled anymore!''
And that sentence changed Dick's life. Hebecame obsessed with giving Rick that feeling as often as he could. He got intosuch hard-belly shape that he and Rick were ready to try the 1979 BostonMarathon.
``No way,'' Dick was told by a raceofficial. The Hoyts
weren't quite a single runner, and theyweren't quite a wheelchair competitor. For a few years Dick and Rick justjoined the massive field and ran anyway, then they found a way to get into therace officially: In 1983 they ran another marathon so fast they made thequalifying time for Boston the following year.
Then somebody said, ``Hey, Dick, why not atriathlon?''
How's a guy who never learned to swim andhadn't ridden a bike since he was six going to haul his 110-pound kid through atriathlon? Still, Dick tried.
Now they've done 212 triathlons, includingfour grueling 15-hour Ironmans in Hawaii. It must be a buzzkill to be a 25-year-old stud getting passed byan old guy towing a grown man in a dinghy, don't you think?
Hey, Dick, why not see how you'd do onyour own? ``No way,'' he says. Dick does it purely for ``the awesome feeling''he gets seeing Rick with a cantaloupe smile as they run, swim and ridetogether.
This year, at ages 65 and 43, Dick andRick finished their
24th Boston Marathon, in 5,083rd place outof more than 20,000 starters. Their best time'? Two hours, 40 minutes in1992--only 35 minutes off the world record, which, in case you don't keep trackof these things, happens to be held by a guy who was not pushing another man ina wheelchair at the time.
``No question about it,'' Rick types. ``Mydad is the Father of the Century.''
And Dick got something else out of allthis too. Two years ago he had a mild heart attack during a race. Doctors foundthat one of his arteries was 95% clogged. ``If you hadn't been in such greatshape,'' one doctor told him, ``you probably would've died 15 years ago.''
So, in a way, Dick and Rick saved eachother's life.
Rick, who has his own apartment (he getshome care) and works in Boston, and Dick, retired from the military and living in Holland, Mass., always find ways to betogether. They give speeches around the
country and compete in somebackbreaking race every > weekend, including this Father's Day.
That night, Rick will buy his dad dinner,but the thing he really wants to give him is a gift he can never buy.
``The thing I'd most like,'' Rick types,``is that my dad sit in the chair and I push him once.''