Longtime Boston Marathon participants Dick and Rick Hoyt, who comprise the father-son duo Team Hoyt, have completed their 32nd and final race to honor of the victims of last year's bombing.
Dick has pushed his son Rick, whose cerebral palsy has left him wheelchair-bound, in the marathon for more than three decades. The 73-year-old father told The Boston Herald
that his back pain has become unbearable, and there will not be a 33rd race. He said that he and his son intended to make last year their final race but, after the bombing tragedy, they felt they owed it to the city to make one last celebratory run.
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"We had to do this race, we knew right away after last year that we would come back and honor the people who were killed and injured." he said. "Boston is so much stronger than it was a year ago."
Rick, 52, was diagnosed at birth as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy, and his parents were advised that he would be a "vegetable." Nonetheless, his parents refused to institutionalize him and brought him home insisting they could give him a traditional childhood.
When he was 12, Rick began using a speech device to communicate, and told his father he wanted to participate in a five-mile race for a teenager who had been paralyzed in an accident. Dick agreed to push his son for the event, much to Rick's delight.
"Dad, when I’m running, it feels like I’m not handicapped," he told his father at the time. They've been racing ever since, Live Action News reported
Along the way, they formed Team Hoyt, which helps wheelchair-bound athletes participate in races across New England, San Diego, and Virginia Beach. The pair has also been immortalized with a statue near the marathon's starting line in Hopkinton.
Rick plans to carry on racing with the help of family friend Bryan Lyons, 44, who acts as vice president of Team Hoyt. Dick will likely undergo back surgery in the coming months, as the procedure has been offered pro bono by several area doctors.
"I was stunned when Dick asked me," Lyons said. "It’s been my understanding that Rick wouldn’t do it without his dad pushing him and Dick wouldn’t continue without Rick with him. So to be asked was just an incredible honor."
Before the race, Rick told reporters, "I know this will be me and my dad’s last year together in the Boston Marathon. I feel honored that he never said no to me in the very first race we ran. I will feel sad, but also know my dad will be at every race whether he is pushing me or not. He will always be there to support me, whether he is dead or alive."
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