‘Team Hoyt’ Receives Recognition at the Annual ESPY Awards
A father and son duo that have raced the 26.2-mile stretch of roadway from Hopkinton to Boston during the marathon for the last 31 years were presented with a special honorary award during ESPN’s Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Awards (ESPYS) ceremony on Wednesday.
Hometown actor Ben Affleck took the stage during the ceremony to pay tribute to Dick and Rick Hoyt of Holland, Mass., and present them the Jimmy V Perseverance Award. The award is given to members of the sporting world who have overcome great obstacles through perseverance and determination.
Father Dick Hoyt, 73, has been pushing his son, Rick Hoyt, 51, who was born with cerebral palsy, through each race they have participated in over the decades using a custom-made running chair. They have also competed in more than 1,000 races overall, including triathlons.
At the last Boston Marathon, the day of the attacks, Rick and Dick were a mile away from the chaos that erupted after the blasts went off on Boylston Street. The 2013 race was going to be their last, but because they were unable to finish, they have vowed to return in 2014 for a final relay to Boston together.
They will finish the race to honor the victims and families impacted by the act of terrorism, they said.
“This April the country embraced the city of Boston after an act of terrorism at the marathon. Terrorism is meant to create fear and break the spirit of its victims. But the spirit of the city isn’t founded on her buildings within its landmarks, it’s found within the people who claim the city as their own and thrive despite adversity. It is found in the people of Boston. And it is especially found in people like Rick and Dick Hoyt,” Affleck said during the award ceremony, before introducing a video, narrated by Dennis Leary, that told the story of the courageous duo.
Despite the fact that doctors said his son would never live “a normal life,” Dick encouraged his son to know that together they could overcome anything, and in 1981 they entered their first Boston Marathon, and have continued to race ever since.
“I am so excited … to receive the Jimmy V Perseverance Award. I can’t hardly believe we are here. Thirty-seven years ago nobody would even talk to us. But because my dad said yes when I asked him to push me in the first race … we are here,” said Rick during the ceremony, thanking family members for showing constant support.
Dick said everyday he is proud to be Rick’s father, and his teammate. “I don’t think you could find two guys more proud to represent the city of Boston,” he said.
It wasn’t the first recognition that the Hoyts have received, however. The local legends were honored by the Boston Athletic Association on April 8 of this year, just days before the big race with a statue depicting them in front of Center School in Hopkinton, right near the Boston Marathon starting line. Team Hoyt was also honored at the Red Sox game following the Boston Marathon back in April.