"Dick personified what it meant to a be a Boston Marathoner, showing determination, passion, and love every Patriots' Day for more than three decades," the Boston Athletic Association said in a statement
The beloved Boston Marathon runner, Dick Hoyt, who won over the world as he pushed his son Rick Hoyt in a wheelchair at the annual race for decades, has died at the age of 80, reported People.
According to reports, he died in his sleep at his Holland home. "He had an ongoing heart condition that he had been struggling with for years and it just got the better of him," said Russ Hoyt, one of his sons, to the Associated Press. Russ and his other brother, Rob Hoyt, broke the sad news to Rick, who is "sad, as we all are, but he's OK." "You could see it in him, it was like someone hit him," Russ said. Dick ran his first marathon with his son Rick, who is quadriplegic and has cerebral palsy, in 1977 after his son expressed his desire to raise money to pay medical bills for a lacrosse player who had been paralyzed from the waist down in an accident. The father-son duo, known to the world as Team Hoyt, participated in their first Boston Marathon in 1980, reported People.
"When we run it makes me feel like my disability disappears," Rick told People in an interview in 2013. The pair has competed in more than 1,000 races together, many of which were marathons and triathlons. Together, they launched the Hoyt Foundation in 1989, a non-profit organization that helps build the self-confidence and self-esteem of disabled young people in America. Through marathons, Dick and Rick had also raised more than a million dollars for organizations such as Easter Seals and the Children's Hospital Boston-Augmentative Communication Enhancement Program. Before retiring in 2014, Dick had completed the Boston Marathon 32 times with Rick. The pair have a statue in their honor at the starting line of the Boston Marathon.
The Boston Athletic Association released a statement after Dick Hoyt's death saying, "The B.A.A. is tremendously saddened to learn of the passing of Boston Marathon icon Dick Hoyt. Dick personified what it meant to be a Boston Marathoner, showing determination, passion, and love every Patriots' Day for more than three decades. He was not only a fan-favorite who inspired thousands, but also a loyal friend and father who took pride in spending quality time with his son Rick while running from Hopkinton to Boston. The pair's bond and presence throughout the course became synonymous with the Boston Marathon. Dick Hoyt was one-of-a-kind. We will sincerely miss Dick, and are keeping his many family and friends in our thoughts and prayers," reported People.