Amazing Mountains

Attitude of Gratitude, leaving a legacy, self improvement, The Inspired Life

 Ricky Hoyt was born with Cerebral Palsy. At eight months, his parents learned the devastating news that their precious child would be a spastic quadriplegic who would never be able to speak. They were told to put him away in an institution and to forget they had ever had him.

Horrified by those words, Judy and Dick Hoyt vowed to love and protect their son and give him every opportunity to reach his fullest potential. They had never even heard of the words Cerebral Palsy before. They had never known a person in a wheelchair before. In the biography It’s only a Mountain, Ricky’s mother Judy goes from ignorance to becoming a leading advocate for people with disabilities. Her commitment and and unwavering fight to improve understanding and acceptance for both her son and the disabled community as a whole opened the door of opportunity that has allowed Ricky to do so much more than anyone ever expected including living in his own apartment and graduating from Boston University in 1993 with a degree in Special Education.

Ricky Hoyt is also an athlete. With his 65 year old father Dick Hoyt, the two of them form  Team Hoyt, a father and son team that have competed in a combination of 958 marathons and Ironman triathlons, which consist of 26.2 miles of running,112 miles of biking and 2.4 miles of swimming. They have climbed mountains together and once ran 3,735 miles across America.

I  had the honor of meeting these amazing men when they gave a presentation during a conference I had attended. The name of their presentation was simply:

I CAN

The Hoyt family was given a mountain to climb, one that seemed impossible to reach. Instead of saying “I can’t” they faced that challenge with an “I can” attitude and turned that mountain into a miracle.

Ricky’s first race began because he wanted to help raise money for another boy who had been injured in a car accident and had lost the use of his legs. The local town had organized a race to raise money for his family to pay medical bills. Ricky wanted to participate but knew he couldn’t run alone. He needed someone to push his wheelchair for him. Dick said yes without a second thought, even though at the time, he was in no shape to run the five miles that they were signed up for.

When they finished the race, every inch of Dick’s body was screaming out in pain. Yet he recalls that Ricky had the biggest smile on his face that anyone had ever seen. Later that evening, Ricky typed the following note in his computer. “Dad, when I am running, it feels like I’m not even handicapped.”

I remember when Dick Hoyt shared that story with us, the love  poured through him when he spoke. His voice caught and he had to swallow hard when he said, “I found a way that I could give my son the freedom and athletic experience that he has always admired in others. I could give Rick the joy of a person that has been freed from the bondage of a disability.”

And so Dick Hoyt began to run. He began to train. They found a special wheelchair that Ricky could be pushed in while Dick ran with him. They discovered a way to put a seat-pod in the front of Dick’s bike so that Ricky could ride on the front of the bike. Dick learned how to swim-and how to pull Ricky in a boat while he swam- so that they could compete in Ironman Triathlons. The Hoyt Team was born.

The Hoyt Team has inspired countless of handicapped and non-handicapped people all over the world with their love of each other and with their drive and determination to be the very best they can be. The Hoyt Family’s CAN Attitude makes one believe that anything is possible.

I got to spend a few minutes talking with Ricky and Dick that weekend. What impressed me more than anything was the close bond between them. Although Ricky can’t say a single word, his eyes speak volumes. The love and laughter that sparks back and forth between the two of them while they banter with nods and gestures put a lump in my throat. This was a father loving his son the way his son needed to be loved in an amazing way. Their gift of love to each other was a beautiful thing to watch.

Dick’s act of love for Ricky is a profound example of giving someone what they need. In return they have both been blessed with so much more. It inspires me to think about my life and the ways that I can show my love to the important people in my life. I may not have to carry them through marathons or triathlons, but am I willing to sacrifice and make the effort to show how much I care? Do I take the time to focus on what I can give, and how I can make a difference?

Dick Hoyt reminds me that love is a verb.  A word of action. A word of doing unto others. A word of caring. A word of CAN.

What CAN we do today to let our loved ones know how much we love them?

 * Be sure to check out the inspiring video of Dick and Ricky in the CAN link above*

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18 thoughts on “Amazing Mountains

  1. thank you for taking the time to comment! , I’m so glad you stopped by, Please come often.

  2. Wendi, Team Hoyt runs in the Boston Marathon, as you know. Around these parts, they are HUGE in an event that takes over the entire state. Even those of us who are bored with competitive running, sit up and take note of the Hoyt’s accomplishments. You’ve captured the essence they impart, very well.

  3. radianone,

    yes, I did know that they run the Boston Marathon. several times. I think they are just amazing.

    Thank you very much.
    I hope you will come often!

  4. Team Hoyt is a set of remarkable people indeed. Did you know that Rick saved Dick in a way too? Not too long ago they found that Dick had a heart condition. Due to the fact that he was in such good shape, he has lasted for way longer than he would’ve normally.

    There’s more about them at Urban Legends: http://www.snopes.com/glurge/teamhoyt.asp

    And watch them in action (8.5 million views and counting): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4B-r8KJhlE

    Truly amazing story, thanks for reminding me again of them.

  5. Hi Lodewijkvdb!

    wow, nice to see you here! Thanks for the extra links!
    I hope that you got to see the link that I linked to the word CAN. Maybe I was too discreet and should have shouted “Hey everybody-click here!”

    I’m not sure if anyone is seeing that video.

    Please come by often! I am glad to have you, and your extra input.

  6. It’s amazing what the human spirit can accomplish!

    I have been lucky enough to know three different families over the years with children who were severely disabled. Each family was told, in no uncertain terms, that their disabled child would never reach adulthood due to their illnesses. And each of those families responded to the doctors and specialists with total rebellion.

    Through love and dedication, all of their children exceeded their life expectancies by years, and even decades. Love is a powerful drug, and a positive attitude doesn’t hurt either 😉 There are many people around us who prove that every day and all we need to do is choose to embrace their lessons.

  7. Melissa,

    Someday I will write about a little girl with Downs Syndrome who changed my life forever. You are so right when you say that love is a powerful drug. The most powerful one of all.

  8. Lodewijk,

    Yeah, I decided to go back and highlight it after your post! Thanks for helping me out there. 🙂

  9. Hi Wendi

    This is a great story and I am glad you shared it with us. I am a first time visitor to your blog but am looking forward to reading more of your articles.

  10. His spirit of “I Can” reminds me of my personal responsiblity to continue to move forward in a positive attitude. Thanks again for the advice…..things ARE going to work out great!

  11. Jamie,

    Thanks,

    I am glad you are here, thanks for commenting…I appreciate every one!

  12. Hi Steven,
    I am glad you liked the story. Team Hoyt has inspired me a lot over the years.

    I hope to see a lot more of you in the days to come. thanks for being a part of our community here!

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