HOLLAND, Mass. (WWLP) – A mission of love that started in Westfield in the 1960s, is now worldwide. The father/son marathon/triathlon team of Rick and Dick Hoyt welcomed hundreds of athletes to the eastern Hampden County Town of Holland Saturday.
Rick and Dick Hoyt have run 72 Marathons, 32 of them in Boston. Rick was born with Cerebral Palsy, and is pushed in a specialized racing wheelchair during their races.
They are the first “Team Hoyt,” and they’ve inspired countless families with disabled children all over the world.
Dick Hoyt told 22News, “We’ve got mother pushing mothers. Fathers pushing their sons and other people pushing. It’s just amazing what’s happening, and what’s going on.”
On Saturday, Rick and Dick hosted the 7th annual Holland 5K. This was their biggest Holland 5K road race yet. They had 138 “Teams Hoyt” from all across the country and Europe.
That included Shawn Evans, who was inspired by Rick and Dick when he ran marathons, long before his 10-year-old disabled son Seamus was born.
Shawn Evans, of Team Hoyt Upstate New York said, “And I always remember seeing those guys. And then for it to come full circle, and for me to be pushing my son, who has Cerbral Palsy. It’s incredibly special to be part of an event like this, and to be helping to spread their mission that they started so long ago.”
Dick and Rick use this race and all of their races to promote their message of inclusion that everyone can participate, regardless of disability.
Dick Hoyt also mentioned, “Our message is “yes, you can.” There isn’t anything you can’t do as long as you can make up your mind to do it.”
And to that end, Rick, who’s now 54-years-old, lives independently in his own apartment.
The Holland 5K Road race, which welcomes athletes of all abilities, benefits the Holland Elementary School. Dick said, they have Teams Hoyt in San Diego, Arizona, Texas, Virginia Beach, Canada and the Netherlands.