Metro

Hoyts honored by city as symbols of strength

Councilor Matt O’Malley (right) and other city councilors greeted Rick Hoyt as his father, Dick, stood behind him.

John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Councilor Matt O’Malley (right) and other city councilors greeted Rick Hoyt as his father, Dick, stood behind him.

The sight of Dick Hoyt pushing his son, Rick, in a wheelchair across the finish line of 32 Boston Marathons has become a symbol of parental devotion, strength, and perseverance in the city and beyond.

Rick was diagnosed with cerebral palsy soon after he was born. But that did not stop him and his father from participating in more than 1,100 races over 37 years. The father-son duo’s last race was the April 2014 Boston Marathon.

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Boston City Councilor Matt O’Malley wanted to honor the pair for the inspiration they have brought the city.

“Dick and Rick Hoyt are personal heroes of mine, I have so many fond memories of cheering them on during the Marathon,” O’Malley said. “They are an incredible team of athletes, and remarkably inspiring individuals who really exemplify ‘Boston Strong.’ ”

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About 80 people gathered at City Hall Wednesday to join O’Malley and the City Council in honoring the Hoyts. O’Malley declared Oct. 22, 2014, as Team Hoyt Day in the city.

Team Hoyt is an organization sponsored by John Hancock that the Hoyts created to help people with physical disabilities become active members of the community. The organization then went on to form the Hoyt Foundation in 1989, a nonprofit for young and disabled Americans.

While Dick Hoyt will not run in the Boston Marathon next year, he said his son will still participate, with their close friend Bryan Lyons.

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Hoyt said in a telephone interview that he and his son had received many awards for what they do. It was an honor to receive such a recognition from the city that both of them love, he said.

“[Rick] can’t walk, use his arms, or legs, and for him to be recognized like this is really good because other people are seeing it and spreading the word,” Hoyt said. “It sends the message that people who are physically challenged are able to get out there and just be like everyone else.”

Rick was diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy when he was born in 1962. Rick, now 52, and Dick, now 74, participated in their first race together in 1977, and completed their first Boston Marathon in 1981, according to Team Hoyt’s website.

“Our message is that there’s nothing you can’t do when you make your mind up to it,” Dick Hoyt said. “The word ‘no’ is not a word in the Hoyt vocabulary.”

Trisha Thadani can be reached at trisha.thadani
@globe.com.
Follow her on Twitter @TrishaThadani.
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