Dick Hoyt, who inspired thousands of runners, fathers and disabled athletes by pushing his son, Rick, in a wheelchair in dozens of Boston Marathons and hundreds of other races, has died, the Boston Athletic Association said Wednesday.
He was 80.
Dick Hoyt first pushed his son, who is quadriplegic and has cerebral palsy, in the Boston Marathon in 1980. Dick and Rick completed 32 Boston Marathons together, until Dick, citing health issues, retired in 2014.
The Boston Athletic Association, which runs the marathon, called Hoyt a legend.
“The B.A.A. is tremendously saddened to learn of the passing of Boston Marathon icon Dick Hoyt," the organization said in a statement. “Dick personified what it meant to a be a Boston Marathoner, showing determination, passion, and love every Patriots Day for more than three decades. He was not only a fan favorite who inspired thousands, but also a loyal friend and father who took pride in spending quality time with his son Rick while running from Hopkinton to Boston."
Dick served as Grand Marshal of the 2015 race in recognition of his accomplishments.
And even though his father stopped, Rick did not. Bryan Lyons, a dentist, took over pushing Rick starting in 2015 until his unexpected death last June at age 50.
The 1980 Boston Marathon was not the Hoyts' first road race.
In 1977, Rick told his father that he wanted to participate in a benefit run for a lacrosse player who had been paralyzed. They finished next to last, but that was just the start.
“Dad, when I’m running, it feels like I’m not disabled,” Rick told his father after that first race, according to the website of Team Hoyt, the charity the family established to help disabled athletes.
They participated in more than 1,000 races, including duathlons and triathlons and in 1992 even completed a run and bike across the U.S., covering 3735 miles (6,010 kilometers) in 45 days, according to the website.
In 2013, a statue of father and son was erected in front of a school in Hopkinton, near the Boston Marathon's starting line.