Mar 18, 2021 - Sports

Dick Hoyt, who pushed son through Boston Marathons, dies at 80

A man pushing a boy in a wheelchair.

Dick pushing Rick in 2004. Photo: Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Dick Hoyt, the inspirational father who pushed his son Rick in a wheelchair through 32 Boston Marathons, died Wednesday at age 80.

How it all started: Rick, now 59, was born with paraplegia and cerebral palsy. In 1977, when he was 15 years old, Dick agreed to help him participate in a 5-mile charity event.

  • "Dad, when I'm running, it feels like I'm not disabled," Rick told his father after the race through his computer, per the Team Hoyt website.
  • That sent a powerful message to Dick, a non-runner at the time. He began training immediately for what became a lifetime of racing.
A man pushing a boy in a wheelchair.
Dick pushing Rick in 1982. Photo: David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The Hoyts ran their first Boston Marathon in 1980 and have completed over 1,000 races since then. That includes 257 triathlons where Dick would tow Rick in a dinghy while swimming.

  • "Ricky is my inspiration," Dick said after the Hoyts received the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the 2013 ESPYs.
  • "He has taught me a great many things over the years, and every day I consider myself lucky to be his father and teammate."
A statue of a man pushing a boy in a wheelchair.
Photo: Richard Berkowitz/Getty Images

Last decade, a bronze statue honoring the Hoyts was erected near the Boston Marathon starting line in Hopkinton, Massachusetts.

"When Rick was born, they said he'd be nothing but a vegetable. Now he's a bronze statue. It can't get any better than that."
ā€” Dick Hoyt

Watch: Documentary about the Hoyts (YouTube)

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