Both marathon fans and simply fans of the human spirit alike 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 that his son, Rick, who will be celebrating his 50th birthday in January, has spent his life in a wheel chair and 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.
Like 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 help integrate disabled people into everyday activities so they may live fruitful and productive lives.
Dan Quinn will be lacing up his New Balances for his inaugural visit to the Patriots Day event at the very same moment that Dick and Rick Hoyt are tying them on for the 30th time.
This may leave the native of North Reading, MA asking himself, “What's a guy like me doing in a place like this” as the starting gun sounds for the 117th running of this year's Boston Marathon.
“It was somewhat surreal knowing what the Hoyts represent to so many people worldwide,” explains Quinn. “They have proven that you can do whatever you choose as long as you decide it’s something you want to go out an accomplish. Meeting with Dick & Rick and being apart of this team is a unique experience, is something that I know will change my outlook on life.”
The 2012 Boston Marathon will be Quinn's first Boston event and only the second time he has participated in a marathon. His previous experience at the elusive 26.2 was the Bay State Marathon where he broke the tape at 5:15.
“I started running a few years back, but got more serious in the past six months when I realized I could start to run long distances,” explains the 30-year-old husband and father of one. “Running for me is a way to relax and a way to stay in shape. I’m a person whose mind is constantly racing though and I’m always thinking about something; family, work, sports. So to me running was a way to slow down my thoughts.”
“I think about my future when I run. Will running keep me healthy? Will my daughter run? Will my wife and I have more kids? Running gives me time to think creatively. It’s a fun way for me to try and stay healthy while getting lost in my own thoughts.”
Quinn is ecstatic at the thought of joining the Hoyts and the rest of the Hoyt Foundation Boston Marathon during Dick and Rick's historic 30th BAA event and realizes how lucky he is to have been chosen as a member of this exclusive group.
“It’s special. I grew up in Northborough, MA and I remember seeing Dick & Rick race when I was a young child. I’m blown away that I will get to run with them and be apart of this special occasion. When I think of the Boston Marathon I think of the Hoyts.”
Though Quinn has never run as a member of the Hoyt Team, he did have the opportunity to meet with the famed racing duo at a recent local event. Quinn said:
“I met them with my family at the Charles River Center 5k. My initial reaction was just how nice Dick was to everyone. He is constantly stopped for introductions, handshakes, and hugs. Overall he is just a great guy and so are the other members of Team Hoyt. It was a beautiful day and an awesome experience to run with Dick & Rick.”
The Hoyts have inspired millions world-wide through their story of love between a father and a son and their lessons that teach us all that we can overcome any of the challenges that life presents us.
How can one say “No” to any obstacle in life when the Hoyts live a life of “Yes You Can?”
Their "Yes You Can" motto has become the very focus of their story and is used to help motivate others through their own life marathon events.
Wearing his red, white and blue “Yes You Can” Hoyt jersey, Quinn explains how he and his wife, Jackie, use the mantra in their every day life:
“My wife and I have talked quite a bit about 'Yes You Can.'" The two of us have recently changed positions at our work and felt overwhelmed with new responsibility. Taking a step back and understanding we had both been put in these new roles for a reason took some time. We both had to realize that we could handle new responsibility and would ultimately be successful.
“There have been smaller occasions like conquering my fear of flying or getting over a fear of public speaking. We all face challenges and we all need to understand that we can get through these things. If you have a plan and enough determination anything is possible.”
This year's Team Hoyt Boston Marathon team is made possible by principal sponsor of the Boston Marathon, John Hancock, and is coached by three-time Boston Marathon Champion, former No. 1-ranked marathoner in the world, New York City Marathon Champion, Berlin Marathon Champion and former world record holder Uta Pippig.
Pippig coaches the team throughout the months leading up to the April event via online, email and telephone coaching tip sessions.
Quinn is equally floored at the thought of being advised by the immortal marathon legend. Quinn said:
“I thought to myself, wow the Hoyts know everyone. Uta will be amazing, to get her advice on running and how to accomplish your goals of long distance running. I don't think I'll ever have the opportunity to experience this again. I am excited to meet Uta and learn as much as possible.”
The ever pensive Quinn had one final thought to add before heading out on his mid-autumn training run:
“I really want to say thank you to my wife for all of the patience she has letting me go out on all my runs. Also my larger family isn’t known for big athletic accomplishments. I hope that they are somehow inspired to exercise more and stay in shape so that they can all live healthy lives.”
Friends, fans and supporters of Dan Quinn can help him achieve his fundraising goal by clicking on his Team Hoyt Crowdrise page or by typing http://www.crowdrise.com/HoytFoundation2012BostonMarath/fundraiser/danquinn.
Todd Civin is a Senior Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.