Both marathon fans and fans simply of the human spirit are more than likely to know the story of Dick and Rick Hoyt. The father/son team, who make their home in scenic Holland, MA, will be running in their 30th Boston Marathon this April.
This, in itself, is a truly amazing accomplishment.
The milestone is made 26.2 times more amazing by the facts that the elder Hoyt, Dick, is 71 years old, and his son, Rick, who will be celebrating his 50th birthday in January, has spent his life in a wheelchair. Rick lives each day as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy, the result of oxygen deprivation at birth.
Dick pushes Rick in a wheelchair for each step of the 26.2-mile event to the delight of the millions of adoring fans who know their inspiring lifelong adventure. Their entire story of inspiration can be found on their website at www.teamhoyt.com or on the pages of their best-selling new book, Devoted-The Story of a Father's Love for His Son.
As they do each year, Dick and Rick Hoyt have assembled a team of runners from Australia, Canada and around the country who comprise The Hoyt Foundation 2012 Boston Marathon team.
The team will be running to raise money for the Hoyt Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charity whose purpose is to help integrate disabled people into everyday activities so they may live fruitful and productive lives.
Over the next several months, I will be introducing many members of the 2012 Team Hoyt Boston Marathon Team and sharing their motivating stories and experiences as members of this inspirational group during the continuing series entitled, "Yes You Can Meet the Team Hoyt 2012 Boston Marathon Team."
Former British marathon runner Priscilla Welch once said, "Running made me feel like a bird let out of a cage, I loved it that much." Upon speaking with Team Hoyt marathon runner, Jenny Palmanshofer, it is quite evident that she too views running in a very similar manner.
"I'm just a runner, that finds freedom in every step," shares Palmanshofer, who will be lacing up with her husband, Christoph, and 30 other Team Hoyt runners this Patriots Day. "It's my passion and the Hoyt's are my inspiration. 'Yes you can' do anything you want to as long as you make up your mind that you want to."
The property manager from Bellevue, Washington will be running her eighth marathon and second Boston event when she lines up this coming April next to Dick, Rick and the rest of the Team Hoyt Marathon Team.
I feel like running is a metaphor for life. When you learn to defeat the person that tries to get you to stop or you don't feel like you can go one step further, it's that "YES YOU CAN" that gets you through. I believe it plays out in my life daily and teaches me to think differently. It gives me the mindset to defeat anything that stands in front of my true purpose, my destination and my goals. As long as I believe, I can do.
Like Welch's poetic metaphor, Palmanshofer sees running as the key that freed her from her own personal psychological prison and allows her to experience life in a way far different than she once did.
During a specific time of trial, I actually could not leave my home. I was alone, ashamed and full of fear. After staying in my home for almost three months and realizing that no one was going to save me, I realized I needed to get out and face the world. I was responsible for my future. I put on my shoes and I ran.
And run she did. The inspiring and emotional Palmanshofer continues:
I ran every single day. I cried when I ran. I screamed, I prayed out loud, I cursed the world, I thanked God and I sang at the top of my lungs. Every day was different, but I felt free, connected, I felt like I could fly. It became my sanctuary. Before I knew it, I was free, accomplished and stronger than ever.""Running has become my guide, my therapy, my passion. It got me through a time I thought was impossible. It saved me and it fueled me to strength. Today, I don't know where I would be without running and now I get to give it back. I get to run for those who can't and I can run for their freedom.
Palmansofer, a graduate of University of Washington, previously ran Boston eight years ago in 2004. She has also twice run the St George Utah Marathon (2003, 2010), LA Marathon (2004), Seattle Rock n' Roll (2011) and New York City (2004, 2011). Her personal best took place in Seattle with an impressive run of 3:25:50.
Her most recent 26.2-mile jaunt through the streets of New York in November almost wasn't meant to be, as Palmansofer was recovering from an injury as the result of an overseas motorcycle accident.
"I was injured from a ridiculous attempt to motocross in The Austrian Alps in August", she laughed. "I don't even like motorcycles. I had been advised to think twice about doing NYC, but it was my husband's first. So, I put on my running shoes and exhibited a bit of Yes You Can."
She has yet to meet Dick and Rick personally and in fact finds it impossible to believe that she was selected as a member of the hand-picked Hoyt team.
"It's incredible. I keep wondering whether Kathy (Sullivan-Boyer, Team Hoyt office manager) really meant to send me the email. I'm in awe. What an experience. I feel so lucky that I am still having a hard time taking it in. It's really such an honor and I'm actually terrified!"
But like her running, Palmanshofer is taking her selection to the team as a learning experience in life.
This will help teach me to me to break boundaries, to reach new heights, to be grateful, to work harder, to be determined, to give back, to fight, to trust, to believe in myself, to believe in others, to work together, to accept limits and fight to break them, to have tolerance, to endure and to feel utter joy. Every time I run, I have a different goal and I learn something new every day. It enhances every aspect of my life through teaching me new perspectives and setting new goals. Some days it's the hardest thing in the world and some days it's amazing. That itself is a lesson and enhances my every day.
Friends, fans and supporters of Jenny Palmanshofer can help her achieve her fund raising goal by clicking on her Team Hoyt Crowdrise page. Last year members of the team combined to raise over $120,000 for the Hoyt Foundation.
Todd Civin is a Senior Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.