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Pattaya Daily News

11 May 2007 :: 16:05:01 pm 21308

Father & Son , a real-life love story

Every once in awhile someone sends us a story that?s so beautiful we are forever changed by it. This is one of those stories.?
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It started in Winchester, Massachusetts, 43 years ago, when Rick Hoyt was born. Somehow his umbilical cord became wrapped around his neck, leaving him brain-damaged and unable to control his limbs.

The doctors told Rick’s parents that he would be a vegetable for the rest of his life. But Dick Hoyt, Rick’s father, didn’t believe it. He noticed the way Rick’s eyes followed him around the room.

When Rick was 11 they took him to the TYPEering department at Tufts University and asked if there was anything to help the boy communicate. “No way,” Dick says he was told. “There’s nothing going on in his brain.”

“Tell him a joke,” Dick countered. They did. Rick laughed.

Turns out a lot was going on in his brain. Rigged up with a computer that allowed him to control the cursor by touching a switch with the side of his head, Rick was finally able to communicate. First words? “Go Bruins!”

And after a high school classmate was paralyzed in an accident and the school organized a charity run for him, Rick pecked out, “Dad, I want to do that.”

Yeah, right. How was Dick, a self-described “porker” who never ran more than a mile at a time, going to push his son five miles? Still, he tried. “Then it was me who was handicapped,” Dick says. “I was sore for two weeks.”

That day changed Rick’s life. “Dad,” he typed, “when we were running, it felt like I wasn’t disabled anymore!”

And that sentence changed Dick’s life. He became obsessed with giving Rick that feeling as often as he could. He got into such hard-belly shape that he and Rick were ready to try the 1979 Boston Marathon.

“No way,” Dick was told by a race official. The Hoyt’s weren’t quite a single runner, and they weren’t quite a wheelchair competitor. So, for the first few years, Dick and Rick just joined the massive field and ran anyway.

Later, they would find a way to get into the race officially: In 1983 they ran another marathon so fast they made the qualifying time for Boston the following year.

Then somebody said, “Hey, Dick, why not a triathlon?”

How’s a guy who never learned to swim and hadn’t ridden a bike since he was six going to haul his 110-pound kid through a triathlon?

Still, Dick tried.

Now they’ve done 212 triathlons, including four grueling 15-hour Ironman Competitions in Hawaii.This year, at ages 65 and 43, Dick and Rick finished their 24th Boston Marathon, in 5,083rd place out of more than 20,000 starters. Their best time? Two hours, 40 minutes in 1992 – only 35 minutes off the world record, which, in case you don’t keep track of these things, happens to be held by a guy who was not pushing another man in a wheelchair at the time.

My name is Danya, and my son Zachary is 13 years old. He also was born with athetoid cerebral palsy. He drives a power wheelchair and uses an augmentative communication device. He has attended regular classes at regular schools since first grade (he did attend a UCP preschool and kindergarten to get a good start and learn to drive his chair). He is currently in 7th grade in above average classes getting straight A’s. Needless to say, I am extremely proud of him.

Today, I watched a show called “Amazing Families” and saw your story. I just wanted to say “thanks” to your whole family. I am very aware that it is because of people like yourselves, who fought before us to get acceptance in the real world, that our struggles are less. Yes, I do have to be vigilant and fight for Zachary to have what he needs, but because others have done it before us, it is easier. Now I can go into a school meeting and say, “Zachary will go to college. Look at Rick Hoyt, he did it, and so will Zach.” You have helped me to affirm that anything is possible if you are willing to be creative and work hard.

Zach’s passion is music. He has already composed several pieces that his school band has performed, and I’m sure he will continue to do amazing things as he gets older. So thanks again, for blazing a trail for all of the families that come along behind you. You are an inspiration to us all.

Danya Bryant

Hey Everyone,

I just returned from a trip to Gatlinburg, TN on company business. During these trips they usually bring on some high powered speaker to pump us all up and send us on our way. You know the type, the Brooks Brothers suits, the $150 Tie, etc..

Well this trip was different. I got to meet a guy named Dick Hoyt. No fancy Ties or suits, No screaming and jumping up and down with his fist in the air. But by far the most powerful message I have ever heard. I won’t ruin the video by telling Dick’s story. I can honestly say in 15 years of being sent to these motivational programs, this is by far the most touching and influential, I have ever encountered.

Dick and Rick have competed in over 900 athletic events together, including the Boston Marathon and the Ironman Triathalon.

Joe C
Sales Manager for Akzo Nobel Coatings

I have been trying to play catch-up since the meeting. Wanted to let you guys know how AWESOME Dick’s presentation was. Our offices have been truly buzzing since the meeting. Everyone is asking me for extra copies of the book and Ironman videos to share the story with all of the coworkers who were not at the meeting. I will tell you that I watched Dick’s videos a few times and thought that I was not going to be emotional during his presentation. Well, I was wrong. I bawled like a baby, just like everyone else! We had a number of executives from our parent company in attendance and they were also blown away by Dick’s presentation. Dick is so humble and the fact that he’s been able to do such extraordinary things out of love for his son is truly inspirational. What an amazing man!

I’ve been sitting here brainstorming the past week and trying to come up with a way to show Dick how much his presentation meant to all of us, not only in our professional lives, but personally. To be honest, I am not sure how we could possibly express our admiration and respect for Dick. We conducted a post-meeting survey and people said that we would never be able to top Dick’s presentation. They said that by listening to Dick, they truly felt that anything was possible.

They said that they would never forget his message and I believe that’s true. Personally, I am in the midst of training for the Austin Freescale Marathon in February and when I was running my longest-pre-race run (22 miles) Saturday after the meeting, I kept picturing Dick’s face and it truly helped keep me going.

Dick, thank you so much for coming to Austin to share your amazing story with our group. It was truly an honor having you in our presence. We wish you and Rick all the best in your future endeavors. Please stay in touch and I would be glad to be on your list of references.

Best wishes,
Mary Beth Yurko
Guaranty Insurance Services

This is more than a story of a father’s love, though it certainly speaks to all fathers, this one included. It’s also a story of courage, the kind any of us could be called upon to demonstrate in our own lives. And if we were, we’d have two wonderful examples to follow in Dick and Rick Hoyt, both of whom I am proud to call friends.

Bobby Orr
NHL Hockey Great

I found your presentation extremely inspirational and moving, about hope, living life to the fullest, never giving up, moving past our limitations…….

Ilze Davenport
Education Manager

On behalf of all New Yorkers I commend you for your courage and strength of spirit and for spreading your special Yes You Can message amongst our city’s young people. I salute you for your energy and your enthusiasm and for your actice involvement in the community. Your lives are an inspiration to us all and your well delivered message brings hope and encouragement to all New Yorkers.

Rudolph Giuliani
New York City

Yours is a remarkable athletic accomplishment. But more than that, it is a triumph of the human spirit–one of many such triumphs to your credit, individually and jointly. John Silber
Massachusetts Board of Education

Dick, I have fond memories of meeting you. Through the dedication of the ‘Hoyt Team’ a much needed awareness of the rights of handicapped persons will be brought to America. Nancy joins me in sending our warmest appreciation to you and our congratulations for your humanitarian and civic-minded service. God bless you. Ronald Reagan
40th President
United States of America

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Reporter : PDN staff   Category : Stories

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