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Marathon legend Dick Hoyt has passed away. The man who pushed his disabled son, Rick, in a wheelchair at the annual race for a few decades died on March 17, 2021. According to his family, Hoyt died in his sleep at his Holland, Massachusetts home. According to The Washington Post, his cause of death was due to congestive heart failure.
His son Russ informed the Associated Press that his father suffered from “an ongoing heart condition.” One “he had been struggling with for years. Unfortunately, “it just got the better of him.”
Russ further stated that he and his brother, Rob, broke the disheartening news to their brother Rick. According to Russ, Rick is “OK” despite being “sad.” Like the rest of the Hoyt family.
In 1977, Hoyt ran his first marathon with his disabled son, who has cerebral palsy and is a quadriplegic. That year his son came to him asking him to help raise money for a schoolmate’s medical bills. The classmate was a lacrosse player who had been paralyzed from the waist down in an accident.
Hoyt was 40 years old when his son came to him about the five-mile run. He had no idea at that time of the decades-long tradition this would start. Nor did either of them know the attention they would gather Nationwide.
Team Hoyt participated in their first Boston Marathon in 1980. In 2013, the father-son duo had competed in over 1,000 races together — many of which were triathlons and marathons. During a 2013 interview with People, the son said that the races made him “feel like my disability” disappeared.
The pair launched a non-profit organization called the Hoyt Foundation. This organization helps build the self-esteem and self-confidence of young disabled people in America. They launched this organization in 1989.
Between 1980 and 2014 the father-son duo competed in the Boston Marathon — a 26.2-mile course — 32 times. The father had planned on retiring from racing in 2013. However, due to the bombing that happened during the Boston Marathon, he and his son were unable to complete the race.
In 2014, the 73-year-old retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Air National Guard completed his last marathon. He is survived by his sons, family, and friends. May he rest in peace.
Written by Sheena Robertson
People: Dick Hoyt, Boston Marathon Icon Who Pushed His Son in a Wheelchair at Races, Dies at 80; by Gabrielle Chung
The Washington Post: Dick Hoyt, devoted marathoner who ran with his disabled son, dies at 80; by Emily Langer
Featured Image Courtesy of Massachusetts National Guard’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inline Image Courtesy of Rich Moffitt’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License