best motivational speaker that your employees and business
associates may ever here! Dick and Rick Hoyt touch
hearts, inspire souls and motivate audience members to
action. Listen to their story and you will be changed
and Rick Hoyt are a father-and-son team who together compete
just about continuously in marathon races. And if they’re
not in a marathon they are in a triathlon — that daunting,
almost superhuman, combination of 26.2 miles of running, 112
miles of bicycling, and 2.4 miles of swimming. Together they
have climbed mountains, and once trekked 3,735 miles across
America. It’s a remarkable record of exertion — all
the more so when you consider that Rick can't walk or talk.
Rick’s birth in 1962 the umbilical cord coiled around his
neck and cut off oxygen to his brain. Dick and his wife,
Judy, were told that there would be no hope for their
"It’s been a story of exclusion ever since he was born.
When he was eight months old the doctors told us we should
just put him away — he’d be a vegetable all his life, that
sort of thing. Well those doctors are not alive any more,
but I would like them to be able to see Rick now." -
couple brought their son home determined to raise him as
"normally" as possible. Within five years, the Hoyts were
convinced Rick was just as intelligent as his siblings. Dick
remembers the struggle to get the local school authorities
to agree. Since Rick couldn’t talk, they thought he
wouldn’t be able to understand. The dedicated parents
Rick the alphabet. "We always wanted Rick included in
everything," Dick said.
group of Tufts University engineers came to the rescue, once
they had seen some clear, empirical evidence of Rick’s
comprehension skills. "They told him a joke," said Dick.
"Rick just cracked up. They knew then that he could
communicate!" The engineers went on to build an interactive
computer allowing Rick to write out his thoughts using the
slight head-movements that he could manage. Rick came to
call it "my communicator." A cursor would move across a
screen filled with rows of letters, and when the cursor
highlighted a letter that Rick wanted, he would click a
switch with the side of his head.
In 1975, Rick was finally admitted
into a public school. Two years later, he told his father he
wanted to participate in a five-mile benefit run for a local
lacrosse player who had been paralyzed in an accident. Dick,
far from being a long-distance runner, agreed to push Rick
in his wheelchair. They finished next to last, but they felt
they had achieved a triumph. That night, Dick remembers,
"Rick told us he just
didn’t feel handicapped when we were competing."
Hoyt" was born and Dick and Rick began to compete in more and more events. Rick
"What I mean when I say I feel like I am not handicapped
when competing is that I am just like the other athletes,
and I think most of the athletes feel the same way. In the
beginning nobody would come up to me. However, after a few
races some athletes came around and they began to talk to
me. Now many athletes will come up to me before the race or
triathlon to wish me luck."
It is hard to imagine now the
resistance which the Hoyts encountered early on, but
attitudes did begin to change when they entered the Boston
Marathon in 1981, and finished in the top quarter of the
field. Dick recalls the earlier, less tolerant days with
more sadness than anger:
"Nobody wanted Rick in a road race. Everybody looked at us,
nobody talked to us, nobody wanted to have anything to do
with us. But you can’t really blame them - people often are
not educated, and they’d never seen anyone like us. As time
went on, though, they could see he was a person — he has a
great sense of humor, for instance. That made a big
4 years of marathons, Team Hoyt attempted their first
triathlon. This was no small task since Dick didn't
know how to swim and hadn't been on a bike since he was six
years old. They completed their first marathon on
Father's Day 1985.
the past twenty five years or more Dick, has pushed and
pulled his son across the country and over hundreds of
"Rick is the one who inspires and
motivates me, the way he just loves sports and competing,"
the business of inspiring evidently works as a two-way
"Dad is one of my role models. Once he
sets out to do something, Dad sticks to it whatever it is,
until it is done. For example once we decided to really get
into triathlons, dad worked out, up to five hours a day,
five times a week, even when he was working."
important, the Hoyts can see an impact from their efforts in
the area of the handicapped, and on public attitudes toward
the physically and mentally challenged.
himself is confident that his visibility — and his father’s
dedication — perform a forceful, valuable purpose in a world
that is too often divisive and exclusionary. He typed a
simple parting thought:
"The message of Team Hoyt is that everybody should be
included in everyday life."
from an article by David Tereshchuk)
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