The Strongest Dad in the World

The Strongest Dad in the World

Team Hoyt, Strongest Father in the worldI remembered when I first read the story and watched the video, I was deeply touched by the love that the father shown for his son. It really brought tears to my eyes. Today, I received an email from a friend with a link to a video and it turned out to be this video. Seeing it again brought tears to my eyes. You will not only be touched by the unconditional love that the father shown to his son, you will also be inspired. You can read the story first or you can go directly to the video at the end of the story.


Eighty-five times he pushed his disabled son, Rick, 26.2 miles in marathons. Eight times he not only pushed him 26.2 miles in a wheelchair but also towed him 2.4 miles in a dinghy while swimming and pedaled him 112 miles in a seat on the handlebars – all in the same day. Dick also pulled him cross-country skiing, taken him on his back mountain climbing and once hauled him across the U.S. on a bike. Makes taking your son bowling look a little lame, right? And what has Rick done for his father? Not much – except save his life.

This love story began in Winchester, Mass., 43 years ago, when Rick was strangled by the umbilical cord during birth, leaving him brain-damaged and unable to control his limbs.

“He’ll be a vegetable the rest of his life,” Dick says doctors told him and his wife, Judy, when Rick was nine months old. “Put him in an institution.”

But the Hoyt weren’t buying it. They noticed the way Rick’s eyes followed them around the room. When Rick was 11 they took him to the engineering 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 weren’t quite a single runner, and they weren’t quite a wheelchair competitor. For a few years Dick and Rick just joined the massive field and ran anyway, then they found 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 Ironmans in Hawaii. It must be a buzzkill to be a 25-year-old stud getting passed by an old guy towing a grown man in a dinghy, don’t you think?

Hey, Dick, why not see how you’d do on your own? “No way,” he says. Dick does it purely for “the awesome feeling” he gets seeing Rick with a cantaloupe smile as they run, swim and ride together.

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.

“No question about it,” Rick types. “My dad is the Father of the Century.”

And Dick got something else out of all this too. Two years ago he had a mild heart attack during a race. Doctors found that one of his arteries was 95% clogged. “If you hadn’t been in such great shape,” one doctor told him, “you probably would’ve died 15 years ago.”

So, in a way, Dick and Rick saved each other’s life.

Rick, who has his own apartment (he gets home care) and works in Boston, and Dick, retired from the military and living in Holland, Mass., always find ways to be together. They give speeches around the country and compete in some backbreaking race every weekend, including this Father’s Day.

That night, Rick will buy his dad dinner, but the thing he really wants to give him is a gift he can never buy.

“The thing I’d most like,” Rick types, “is that my dad would sit in the chair and I would push him once.”

Photo Credit: Team Hoyt
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6 thoughts on “The Strongest Dad in the World

  1. lonelyme

    Cases of such was such rare that I rate it as indefinite percentage over the 100!!!

    Perhaps if another DAD comes along of such situation, the boy will be dumped long ago not more to say, even with proper limbs, the DAD could have been so uneasy with one!

    Thanks for sharing and at least I know there is such a rare DAD!

    1. Symphony of Love Post author

      @ Lonely Me, I respect your opinion as this may be what you are seeing and experiencing around you. Yet I have seen a lot of Dads around me who are as loving, dedicated as mothers to their children; not in the least as lacking in the unconditional love to their kids. And I truly believe in my heart that such cases are only rare because there are many unreported cases.

      My Dad was never lacking in loving and providing for us. A man of few words but he had shown his love through the little things which he had done for us. Not all dads love the same ways which we want them to … yet it doesn’t mean that they do not love us with all their hearts.

  2. lonelyme

    It is my seeing is more appropriate and definitely experiencing is not one esp. on my own dad. He was not only loving, he loves me the most among my siblings. However, it is the news that I read that some dads were incest and animals esp. to their daughters! Of course, I wont say there is not a single DAD or most dads are lacking. Only that DADS are still not considered as loving as MUMS. 🙂
    Hope you get my message across.

    1. Symphony of Love Post author

      @ Lonely, glad to hear that you have a loving Dad. No doubt about the negative news about Dads, yet have you not read also about the negative news about Mothers? My point is that just as Dads may not love exactly the way Mothers do, it doesn’t mean that they do not love with all their hearts and souls. I believe the key difference between the two is the special bond between babies and mothers because of the pregnancy that we are talking about here, and not how each loves, which truly differentiate Moms and Dads.

  3. lonelyme

    May be I come from a rather cocoon world that my dad and mum were providing me. I always feel if the people out there are the same ways as I feel.
    What others think of mums that I had not ever thought of my own mother? To theirs, may be those who used to have a divorced mum and remarried and bore the children, those children or rather the daughter(s) tended to follow their mum’s exorbitant ways of “iron ladies” style that they own the world. There is such! Sometimes, may be unforgiveable person that I came across! but then, it is out of your topic here, just delete off if u wish!

    1. Symphony of Love Post author

      @ Lonely Me, there is no reason to delete the comment as long as the discussion is civil, proper and polite. Thank you for commenting here. It is a pleasure to ‘meet’ you here.