April 15, 2014 -- Team Hoyt has become a fixture on the Boston Marathon course, but after running it more than 30 times, the father-and-son team has decided it’s time to say goodbye.
Dick Hoyt pushed his son, Rick, who has cerebral palsy, in a wheelchair for their first race in 1977. It was a five-miler, but soon the duo went on to compete in 1,100 athletic events, including more than 30 Boston Marathons. But now that Dick Hoyt is 74 and Rick is 52, they believe it’s time to slow down.
For Dick Hoyt, the best part has been watching people first accept Rick and then embrace him.
“When Rick was born, they said, ‘Forget him. Put him away. Put him in an institution. He’s going to be nothing but a vegetable for the rest of his life,’" Dick Hoyt told ABC News. “And here he is. He’s 52 years old and we haven’t figured out what kind of vegetable he is yet.”
Rick Hoyt graduated from high school and college, and Team Hoyt has inspired people all over the world, Dick Hoyt said.
After their first race, Rick Hoyt told his father, "Dad, when I'm running, it feels like I'm not handicapped."
Their first marathon was the Boston Marathon, and if Rick Hoyt could only do one race a year, he's told his father it would be that one.
Their fans stand along the 26.2-mile route holding Team Hoyt signs.
During last year’s marathon, they learned about the bombs at mile 23 and tried to run to the finish line to make sure their families and their foundation members were OK. A Good Samaritan offered to drive them to their hotel, but they had to leave Rick Hoyt’s wheelchair, which wound up in the crime zone and unavailable for two or three days, Dick Hoyt said.
“So, he got to sit in his father's lap for five hours,” Dick Hoyt said.
Still, the following morning, they decided to run the Boston Marathon in 2013 in honor of the bombing victims. It’s Rick Hoyt’s favorite race, after all.
"Boston was very strong last year and they’re going to be a lot stronger this year," Dick Hoyt said. "There’s no doubt about it. I just love Boston and the people who live in Boston."
He said he was impressed the way the city handled the bombing.
"And there were like 5,500 runners behind us and people were coming out of their homes and feeding these people and letting them use their bathrooms and everything else," he said. "It was just amazing the way it was handled."
He said running their final Boston Marathon will be emotional, but they're looking forward to it.
“We’re going to be happy that we finished it,” Dick Hoyt said. “And we’re going to be so happy to see all our runners and family members are going to be there.”