E-mail this page E-mail this

Strongest Dad in the World

Claim:   Message describes the Hoyts, a father and disabled son who participate as a team in marathons.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, July 2008]

Be ready.....you WILL cry!

This is the most unbelievable thing I've ever seen. I am absolutely in AWE of this man. Please watch the video, too — I am sitting here at my computer at a loss for words. There are no words for this, only tears filled with emotion.

A MUST Watch Video

This Father does it all just for the purpose of seeing the smile on his son's face. If you want to see the most profound reflection of the Father's love for us that you've ever seen ... watch. Time taken to watch this is the best time you've ever spent on email.

Read this and then watch the video

[Click here to expand text].

Origins:   As covered in the account reproduced above (the text of which was taken from a 2005 Sports Illustrated article), Dick and Rick Hoyt are a father-and-son team from Massachusetts who between 1977 and 2014 regularly participated in grueling athletic endeavors such as marathon races and triathlon competitions together, even though (due to complications at birth) Rick cannot walk or talk:
The 74-year-old Dick and 53-year-old Rick completed 32 Boston Marathons together. Rick was born a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy, unable to walk or talk, so Dick runs races while pushing Rick in a custom-racing wheelchair.

Team Hoyt first took shape in the spring of 1977 when Rick told his father that he wanted to participate in a five-mile benefit run for a lacrosse player who had been paralyzed in an accident.

Dick agreed to push Rick in his wheelchair and they finished all five miles, coming in next to last. The pair has since completed over 1,100 races, including six Ironman competitions. They also biked and ran across the U.S. over a 45-day span in 1992. Their well-documented story is both legendary and inspirational to people all over the world.
Interested readers can find a wealth of material about the Hoyts on the Team Hoyt web site (including a
history of the remarkable father-son team). We also note that since the article referenced above was published, the Hoyts are no longer the lone non-individual team to participate in the Boston Marathon. During the 2006 running of that event (the 25th anniversary of the Hoyts' first Boston Marathon), Dick and Rick were joined by Mark and Amanda Collis, a father-daughter team from Canada.

As the Hoyts told the Boston Herald after that race, similar forms of participation with the disabled (at all levels) seem to be on the increase:
"I do all of the office work, and we get e-mails every day from people like this," said Kathy Boyer, Dick's girlfriend. "It's not just parents pushing their kids. It's someone pushing a friend who has Parkinson's disease, or another situation. Not many are doing it on this level, of course. This takes years and years of preparation."

"I think there's a lot of families getting into it like this now," said Dick. "I'm not just talking about the intensity of marathon running. I've heard from people who just want to even get into this as far as taking their children out for a walk goes. I think all different kinds of people look at this as a great opportunity. We're trying to prove to people with disabilities that they belong out there."
Due to Dick's back problems, the 2014 Boston Marathon was the last the Hoyts ran together. Rick will still continue, however, with his father's place being taken by Dr. Bryan Lyons, a Billerica dentist:
The years of competition and travel certainly took a toll on Dick's body. Due in large part to his increasing back pain, he decided 2014 would be his last marathon pushing Rick. The original plan was for the 2013 Boston Marathon to be Dick and Rick's last together, but they were not able to finish the race due to the bombings. They then decided to come back again in 2014 to complete the course one final time.

That opened the door for Lyons, a close family friend and member of The Hoyt Foundation marathon team since 2008.

"World-class athletes, professional triathletes had said to Dick, 'hey, when you're done, I'd love to take over and push Rick,'" said Lyons, a Methuen resident who has had his dental practice in Billerica since 1996. "But it was always no. If you read any of Dick's books, neither was going to continue without the other. It was sort of shocking for him to ask me.

"My friends told me (the Hoyts) don't want the big name, they want the big heart. If that's the least that I can provide, I'm happy." The torch has now been passed to Lyons. When he talks about the opportunity to push Rick, the expression on his face tells the story. He is clearly honored, a stray tear welling in the corner of his eye.

"Bryan will be out there, and he'll do his best, we know that," said Dick. "He's a great athlete, a great person, and the type of person that we want to be pushing Rick. And Rick wants Bryan to be the one to do it."
Last updated:   11 April 2015

Urban Legends Reference Pages © 1995-2015 by snopes.com.
This material may not be reproduced without permission.
snopes and the snopes.com logo are registered service marks of snopes.com.


    Feifer, Jason.   "Team Hoyt Inspires in Marathons, Print."
    [Worcester] Telegram & Gazette.   23 December 2003   (p. B1).

    Langone, Matt.   "Billerica Dentist to Push Rick Hoyt for His Dad in Boston Marathon."
    The Lowell Sun   9 April 2015.

    Murphy, Mark.   "Hoyts' Spirit Spreads; Milestone Run an Inspiration."
    The Boston Herald.   18 April 2006   (p. M7).

    Reilly, Rick.   "Strongest Dad in the World."
    Sports Illustrated.   20 June 2005   (p. 88).