Dick Hoyt, Marathon Icon Who Ran with Cerebral Palsy Son, Dead at 80

by Jennifer Shea
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Dick Hoyt, a legendary Boston Marathon regular who ran the race while pushing his son in a wheelchair, has passed away at age 80.

Hoyt’s son Rick is quadriplegic and has cerebral palsy. Since the 1980 Boston Marathon, the pair had finished 32 Boston Marathons together, the Associated Press reported.

Dick Hoyt Helped His Son Forget His Disability

Rick is unable to speak. But an electronic device allowed him to communicate with his dad around age 11, according to TMZ. Among the first things he told his father was that he loved it when they went running together.

“Dad, when I’m running, it feels like I’m not disabled,” Rick reportedly told his father in 1977. That was after the two of them had joined a benefit run for a paralyzed lacrosse player, per the website of the charity the family established to help disabled athletes, Team Hoyt.

So Dick went running with Rick in more than 1,000 races. Those included duathlons, triathlons and even a 45-day cross-country run and bike.

The Hoyts’ story encouraged thousands of other disabled athletes to participate in races. And in 2013, a school in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, near the Boston Marathon’s starting line, put up a statue of the father-son duo.

Hoyt Passed Away In His Sleep After Health Issues

Dick had been battling health problems in recent years. He retired from running the Boston Marathon in 2014 due to health concerns. But Rick kept going. According to the AP, a dentist named Bryan Lyons began pushing Rick through the race until he died last June.

Dick died in his sleep Wednesday, Boston.com reported.

The Boston Athletic Association runs the Boston Marathon. It dubbed Hoyt a legend and released a statement mourning his death.

“The B.A.A. is tremendously saddened to learn of the passing of Boston Marathon icon Dick Hoyt,” the organization said in the statement. “Dick personified what it meant to a be a Boston Marathoner, showing determination, passion, and love every Patriots Day for more than three decades. He was not only a fan favorite who inspired thousands, but also a loyal friend and father who took pride in spending quality time with his son Rick while running from Hopkinton to Boston.”

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