Everything began with a tragedy. Shortly after his birth in January 1962 Rick Hoyt was diagnosed with cerebral palsy after his umbilical cord became twisted around his neck, which caused blockage of oxygen flow. As a result, his brain cannot send the correct messages to his muscles. Many doctors encouraged his parents to put him in some institute.
His parents held on to the fact that Rick’s eyes would follow them around the room, giving them hope that he would somehow be able to communicate someday. The Hoyts took Rick every week to a doctor, who encouraged them to treat Rick like any other child.
Video: Youtube / Sean Sussman
Then there was a miracle. Firstly with a special method, Rick learnt the alphabet. At the age of 11 he was fitted with a computer that enabled him to communicate and it became clear that he was intelligent. With this communication device, Rick was also able to attend public schools and later he graduated from Boston University.
In 1977 Rick asked his father Dick, who was 36, if they could run in a race together to benefit a lacrosse player at his school who had become paralysed. But how? Dick solved this with a simple wheelchair for his son. Easy! After their initial five mile run, they started doing more sports, including triathlons. For the swimming portion of the triathlon, Dick uses a rope attached to his body to pull Rick as he is sitting in a boat. For the cycling portion, Rick rides in the front of a specially designed tandem bike.
In 1988, they attempted their first Ironman race, featuring a 2.4-mile ocean swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a full marathon. They had to drop out when Dick became nauseated during the swim and failed to make the cutoff time. They returned the following year and finished the race. In 2003, they crashed at the 85-mile mark of the bicycle ride and spent five hours in a hospital emergency room. But they finished it again in 2004.
In 2013, Dick and Rick accepted the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance. As of April 2014, the Team Hoyt had competed in 1,108 endurance events, including 72 marathons and six Ironman triathlons! Also adding to their list of achievements, Dick and Rick biked and ran across the U.S. in 1992, completing a full 3,735 miles in 45 days. Yes, they are not specialising in cycling only, but we feel they more than deserve our attention and respect!
Photos: Profimedia.cz (3), Teamhoyt.com (1)