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Somewhere in the U.S. there are organizations that likely honor someone as Father of the Year and present them with some trophy or award.  I suggest they consider naming that piece of hardware after Dick Hoyt who died yesterday in his sleep at the age of 80. You are likely not familiar with him although there’s a good chance you’ve seen a picture or video of him doing what he will always be remembered for…pushing his son in a wheelchair while running.

Rick Hoyt was born a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy and in 1977 the then 15-year old told his father that he wanted to take part in a 5-mile benefit run for a lacrosse player who had been paralyzed in an accident.  So Dick pushed him in his wheelchair and ran the entire distance with the duo finishing next to last.  That night Rick told his father, “Dad when I’m running, it feels like I’m not disabled.”

Thus “Team Hoyt” was born and father and son would go on to compete in more than 1,000 races including 72 marathons and 257 triathlons where they swam and biked as well.  They ran their first Boston Marathon in 1980 and last in 2014…completing 32 of them. Their efforts there are held in such high regard that there is a bronze statue of them at the starting line in Hopkinton.  Oh and in 1992 they ran and biked across the country, completing all 3,700 miles in 45 days.

I can’t even imagine running 26 miles…I think the most I ever did was 10.  Yet here was a man pushing his adult son in a custom racing chair the entire distance time and time again. One of Dick’s other two sons summed it up yesterday when he said, “My father would say all the time.  Rick’s the heart and I’m the body.”

While they ran for each other they also did so for others by raising more than $1 million for organizations like Easter Seals and the Children’s Hospital of Boston.

We fathers often say that we would do anything for our child.  I’m sure when Rick asked him 44 years ago to push him in a 5-mile benefit race Dick imagined it would be a one-time thing.  Well, it turned out to be something much bigger which inspired thousands over the years.

Dick Hoyt is my nominee for Father of the Year.  Any arguments?

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