Remembering Cerebral Palsy Advocate Rick Hoyt

3 min read

Dick Hoyt pushes son Rick in running wheelchair

The cerebral palsy and Boston Marathon communities are mourning the loss of esteemed advocate and icon Rick Hoyt. Rick passed away at the age of 61 on May 22, 2023. The family lost his father, Dick Hoyt, in 2021.

Rick and his father were a beloved disability advocate duo dedicated to pushing the limits. Together they participated in dozens of marathons and triathlons, working hard to change the way people view the sporting abilities of people with diagnoses such as cerebral palsy (CP).

Learn more about Rick’s story and the legacy he leaves behind.

Who Was Rick Hoyt?

When he was born in 1962, Rick suffered a lack of oxygen to his brain during delivery due to umbilical cord complications. This led to Rick being diagnosed with spastic cerebral palsy.

Spastic CP is a neurological disability that can affect muscle control in the arms, legs, face, and the rest of the body. It can make everyday tasks like walking and eating incredibly difficult without help.

While doctors told Rick’s parents to put him in an assisted living facility, his parents refused and committed to raising him alongside their other children.

At 15 years old, Rick first expressed his interest in running and wanted to participate in a local five-mile fundraising event for a lacrosse player who had been paralyzed in an accident. Dick pushed his son Rick in his wheelchair for the entirety of the event. The pair came in second to last — but it didn’t matter.

After the race, Rick told his father that while they were running, he didn’t feel disabled. From there, the duo launched Team Hoyt, which would later become part of runner and cerebral palsy history.

Team Hoyt, the Boston Marathon, and Beyond

Team Hoyt began running 5ks, 10ks, and half marathons to train for the famed Boston Marathon. In 1980, they participated in their first of many marathons together.

Altogether, Team Hoyt crossed the Boston Marathon finish line 32 times. The last race Rick and Dick ran together was in 2014, though Rick continued to race with help from Bryan Lyons, an avid runner and family friend.

"[Rick was] one of the most inspirational heroes this world has ever known."
– Dave McGillivray, Boston Marathon Race Director

In 2013, a statue of Rick and his father was placed in their honor near the starting line of the Boston Marathon.

Rick’s love for sports didn’t stop at running and expanded to swimming and cycling. With time, he and his father would go on to compete in over 1,100 endurance events, including 247 triathlons.

In 1989, Team Hoyt was also famously the first wheelchair team to complete the Hawaii IRONMAN® race, an over 140-mile triathlon.

Today, Team Hoyt has expanded to include nearly a dozen teams in the U.S. and Canada — all made up of advocates for people with disabilities and all inspired by Rick and Dick Hoyt.

Rick Hoyt’s Legacy: The Hoyt Foundation and More

The Hoyt family established The Hoyt Foundation in 1989 with the goal of helping “build the individual character, self-confidence and self-esteem of America’s disabled young people through inclusion in all facets of daily life.”

Today, the foundation has helped children with cerebral palsy and other disabilities achieve their goals through life-changing “Yes You Can” Grants. The grants range from $5,000 to $25,000 to break down disability and financial barriers for those with cerebral palsy and other disabilities.

Did you know families of children impacted by birth injuries may pay up to $1 million on treatment, caregiving support, and assistive devices, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control? Contact us to learn how we can help.

The Dick & Rick Hoyt Award

Together, Rick Hoyt and his father helped change how people viewed what people with disabilities are capable of. They always worked toward the acceptance and inclusion of all people.

In their honor, the Boston Marathon established the Dick & Rick Hoyt Award in 2021, which is now presented each year to someone who embodies the spirit of Team Hoyt and their “Yes You Can” attitude.

The Dick Hoyt Memorial Road Race

The very first Dick Hoyt Memorial “Yes You Can” Run Together Race was held May 27, 2023, just days after Rick Hoyt’s passing.

Though the family considered postponing the race, ultimately, they decided to go through with it to honor the Team Hoyt legacy. The event raised $70,000 to support The Hoyt Foundation grants.

Find Support & Resources for Cerebral Palsy

Rick’s legacy is more than just a thousand sporting achievements. He personified perseverance, resilience, joy, and advocacy, which will live on through the Hoyt Foundation and so much more.

His ‘yes you can’ spirit continues to inspire athletes of all ages, and his memory endures in the Boston Marathon, IRONMAN races, and many other communities. He will be greatly missed.

All of us at Cerebral Palsy Guide remain dedicated to Rick’s goals of empowering every child with a disability to achieve their dreams. If you have a child affected by cerebral palsy or a birth injury like Rick, our on-staff nurses can help.

Contact us today at (855) 220-1101 to learn more about resources, treatment, and options for financial assistance.

Cerebral Palsy Guide was founded upon the goal of educating families about cerebral palsy, raising awareness, and providing support for children, parents, and caregivers affected by the condition. Our easy-to-use website offers simple, straightforward information that provides families with medical and legal solutions. We are devoted to helping parents and children access the tools they need to live a life full of happiness

  1. Boston Athletic Association. “Statement on the Passing of Boston Marathon Icon Rick Hoyt.” Retrieved from Accessed on June 22, 2023.
  2. Boston University (2023 May 23). “Alum and Boston Marathon Fixture Rick Hoyt Dies at 61.” Bostonia. Retrieved from Accessed on June 22, 2023.
  3. CBS News (2023 May 23). “Rick Hoyt, Boston Marathon icon, dies at 61, 'One of the most inspirational heroes'.” Retrieved from Accessed on June 22, 2023.
  4. Team Hoyt. “The Hoyt Foundation.” Retrieved from Accessed on June 22, 2023.
  5. Team Hoyt Coeur d’Alene. “MEET RICK & DICK HOYT: THE STORY OF TEAM HOYT.” Retrieved from Accessed on June 22, 2023.
  6. Team Hoyt San Diego. “The Story of Dick and Rick Hoyt.” Retrieved from,a%2030%2Dminute%20dedication%20ceremony. Accessed on June 22, 2023.
  7. Triathlete (2023 May 22). “Ironman Legend Rick Hoyt Dead at 61.” Retrieved from Accessed on June 22, 2023.
  8. WCVB (2023 May 27). “First annual Dick Hoyt Memorial Road Race held days after Rick Hoyt's death.” Retrieved from Accessed on June 22, 2023.