The father and son duo have inspired countless numbers of people over the past 30-plus years.
Applauding the late Jimmy Valvano’s famous words, “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up,” Rick Hoyt delivered his acceptance speech via a voice synthesizer last night at the 2013 ESPY Awards. Rick and Dick Hoyt, known as Team Hoyt, were presented with the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance at the annual awards show, an honor given to an athlete who has exhibited extreme perseverance and determination in any sport.
“Thirty-seven years ago, no one would even talk to us. But, because my dad said yes when I asked him to push me in the first race and my family always stood by us and helped us persevere when so many people told us we did not belong, we are here,” Rick said.
A proud father, Dick Hoyt stood silently next to his son as the room applauded Rick’s touching words. The Hoyts are proud Boston natives — Dick thanked the Los Angeles crowd for “giving such a warm welcome to a couple of stubborn Boston guys.”
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Rick was born with a severe form of cerebral palsy, and doctors told Dick his son would never live a normal life. Instead of institutionalizing his son, however, Dick went against the doctors’ advice and began pushing Rick through road races and pulling him through triathlons. In 1981, Team Hoyt ran their first marathon in their own backyard: the Boston Marathon.
“When we got to the finish line, someone gave me a blanket just like all the other athletes, and that proved I belonged [there],” Rick remembers.
Since that race, Dick and Rick have participated in over 1,000 races together, including this past April’s Boston Marathon, where they were amongst the 5,000-plus participants halted at mile 23 after the bombs exploded on Boylston St. To honor the inspiring duo, John Hancock unveiled a Team Hoyt tribute statue at the starting line of the Marathon this past April to remind others that, “yes, you can.” This year’s marathon was to be Team Hoyt’s 31st — and last — time competing in the iconic event, but those plans changed after this year’s tragedy.
“This was going to be our last Boston Marathon, but because of the tragedy, we plan to honor those who were killed or injured by running one last time [in 2014],” Rick says. Denis Leary, actor and narrator of the four-minute Team Hoyt documentary preceding their acceptance speech, adds some goosebump-worthy remarks. “Next year, they will be more than a father pushing his son across the finish line. They will be a team finishing a race on behalf of an entire city, a city who has given them as much as they’ve given to it.”
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Team Hoyt was a perfect choice for the Jimmy V Award, especially in light of the recent events in Boston. Last night’s presentation not only honored the Hoyts’ superb accomplishments, but it also paid respect to Boston and its citizens while inspiring a nation to lend support to the city and the historic annual event that will continue to run down Boylston St. for many years to come.
In the words of Dick Hoyt, “We can’t like something like this stop us!” Indeed we cannot.