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Happy Father's Day - The World's Strongest Dad

Posted By Blackfive

This is a repost from 2006.  It still holds true today.

The first time that I was ever "published" was centered around an event when my son was injured and needed surgery at the age of two.  I've been through a lot in my life, but nothing ever like that terrible night in 2003.  We were at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago - a phenomenal organization. I remember asking our amazing nurse if she went home and drank herself numb every night because I couldn't understand how someone could be that strong and not need a crutch.  My wife, at one point, thought we should set her up with one of my friends.  I thought about it, and then said, "None of them are good enough for her."  (Sorry guys)

I wrote a letter about my experience feeling helpless as father and asked for support for Children's Memorial Hospital.  It was published by a major Chicago paper on Father's Day.  And my son was fine a few days after our visit.  I remember thinking about all of the parents at the hospital who's sons and daughters had bigger problems than we faced.  Parents will be strong because they have to be strong.  But exactly how strong can one dad be?

So, this brings us to the world's strongest dad - a father among fathers.  Ron sends this story from Sports Illustrated's Rick Reilly about Dick and Rick Hoyt (Dick is a retired Air National Guard Lieutenant Colonel).  It's a great story about a father and son who saved each other.  It's been making the email rounds and I thought it would be a great story to read this weekend:

Strongest Dad in the World
Rick Reilly
Sports Illustrated Issue date: June 20, 2005, p. 88

I try to be a good father. Give my kids mulligans. Work nights to pay for their text messaging. Take them to swimsuit shoots.

But compared with Dick Hoyt, I suck.

Eighty-five times he's pushed his disabled son, Rick, 26.2 miles in marathons. Eight times he's 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's 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 Hoyts 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 Hoyts 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 sit in the chair and I push him once."

Photo from Team Hoyt

Like Rick Reilly, compared to Dick Hoyt, I suck.

Here is a glimpse of the remarkable father-son bond of Dick and Rick Hoyt, and their inspirational journey together in a triathlon and life itself - it's amazing:

If you would like to sponsor Team Hoyt, contact information is below:

Team Hoyt
241 Mashapaug Road
Holland, MA
Fax: (413) 245-9554
Email: [email protected]
Web www.teamhoyt.com

June 16, 2007 • Permalink
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Thanks for the repost on the Hoyt's Matt, always inspirational on father's day (and humbling)

That is truly a most wonderful story.
God bless them.

How amazing. Thanks for posting. I'm all weepy.

Army Strong...and then there's Dad Strong!!!
God bless them, all our Dad's in service, Dad's holding down the home-front (while Mom serves), and their families!

On this Father's Day, it is my son at Camp Baharia, Iraq that holds my heart so tenderly in his warrior's hands. The Hoyts' father-son connection is what The Father intended, and so it is with us. On our last phone call, he said, "I hate putting you through this, Dad.". His being gives my life purpose, and his purpose gives my heart the strength to remain strong for him and his mission. I am envious that, unlike Dick, I am unable to be with him, struggle with him, be victorious with him. It is the son that makes the father. Thanks for the story of love, strength, endurance. Love survives all things; Dick and Rick Hoyt prove God is true to His Word.

Saw it the first time you posted it and I thank you for the repost. What a beautiful and inspiring reminder.

Salaam eleikum and happy Father's Day!

I read a story about these two great individuals last year. What a wonderful tribute to his son. This is an incredible story.

Indeed, TWOLANEFLASH, indeed. Love never fails.

I remember this one, a great Father's Day story. A great story any day.

Now that's true strength.

Now that's true strength.

"I hate putting you through this, Dad.". His being gives my life purpose, and his purpose gives my heart the strength to remain strong for him and his mission.

twolane don't be envious........be proud, we all are!!!

and no, most of us can't carry Dick Hoyt's jock........1 meter.....

Thanks for sharing the Hoyt's story. They came to my church several months ago and when the film was shown during the service there wasn't a dry eye there.


You mean that blurry monitor problem alot of us have been having lately????


Happy Fathers Day to you and FastLaneSonInIraq!
Only my best to the both of you, and to all of your extended families involved, like rgrmom and pops, I am so proud of you all!!!
A hearty thanks (prayers) to all of you...daily!!! JihadGene

Big prayers of peace and comfort going out now from the left coast, to all involved with The One! Happy Father's Day Pops!

You Mutha! Happy Father's Day!!!

"You mean that blurry monitor problem alot of us have been having lately????"

+1000 on that!

Here's a link to the video (the link above was taken down):


Like Old Tanker said:
most of us can't carry Dick Hoyt's jock........1 meter.....

Here's another great clip of the Hoyt's.
The end is pretty powerful.


Thanks Matt!

I'd like to watch the video linked at the bottom, however:

"This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by World Triathlon Corporation"

Yay, YouTube.

Team Hoyt were featured on the Oz version of 43 Minutes a few weeks back.

Needless to say I cried buckets as I watched it.

Transcript with link to video here.

(hope the link works.)


Happy Father's Day to all you America-loving dads who have truly been father's to their offspring. It shames and humbles me, as a Christian/father/American, that we have become the exception, rather than the rule, in our homeland.

We speak of "the heart" of our nation, but what has become of our "America's heart"? Is it in decay or in recovery? Fatherhood is the foundation of our nation, from America's founding till America's time ends. Statistics don't bode well for the direction fatherhood is heading in our land, especially among Harry "Haraam" Reid's "undocumented Americans".

Alexis de Tocqueville said it best: "America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great."

Fathers, pray to The Father today, that He will give us more of His Love to share, because there are so few of us. On my knees.

Happy Father's Day to all you great dads! I'm so glad to know you're out there. :)

For anyone interested, MSN featured an article today that Rick Hoyt wrote himself.

Wow, this guy is one of the most amazing dads ever! Bet he's no liberal. You typical liberal would have just put the son in the instituion and been on there way. "Screw them" seems to be a popular term amongst the left!

Wonderful story about a wonderful dad-happy fathers day.

Yeah, it's a great story every time I hear it (or see it).

Also wanted to wish a (belated) happy FIRST Fathers Day to Cpl. D.J. Emery. Hope he's doing better and enjoying his new daughter.

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» Fathers Day 2007 from Sister Toldjah
In just a few hours Ill be getting together with the family to celebrate Fathers Day. Dads already gotten his gift from me - a new desk chair that rolls, to replace the folding chair he normally sits in when he is concentrating on... [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 17, 2007 10:49:45 AM

» Bonne Jour Des Peres from The Silent Republican
. . . I'll point you towards Blackfive's and let you read a very inspiring story about a father's love for his son. The saga of the Hoyt family is one to really embolden the spirit, and kinda puts things into perspective. . . [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 17, 2007 3:51:28 PM

» Team Hoyt - C-A-N from Living Better BLOG
Interview - Todays Heroes Fathers talk Story Rick Hoyt was born in 1962. He could be a vegetable, but he wasnt. However, he cant walk and speak. His parents wanted to raise him as normally as possible. By the help of ... [Read More]

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