When Dick Hoyt passed away in March 2021, it seemed fitting to honor his legacy with a road race. Hoyt competed in more than 1,000 endurance events and 32 Boston Marathons while pushing his son, Rick, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth.
When it came time to pick the location for that race, one of Dick’s other sons, Russ, said there was one site that stood above the rest.
“We wanted it to be somewhere that represented our family and everything that has gone on with their racing career,” Russ Hoyt said. “It just made sense that it was going to be in Hopkinton.”
In addition to being the starting point for the Boston Marathon, Hopkinton has long embraced the Hoyt family. In 2013, a bronze statue was dedicated to Dick and Rick in front of Center School, right next to the start line.
About six weeks after this year’s Boston Marathon, on May 27, the Hoyt family foundation, Team Hoyt, will host the Dick Hoyt Memorial Yes You Can Run Together event (raceroster.com/events/2023/71383/the-dick-hoyt-memorial-yes-you-can-run-together). The main race will be 5 miles long in honor of the distance of the first race Dick ever ran with Rick. There also will be a 2-mile walk to encourage participation from people who are not runners, and a free kids’ race inside one of the baseball fields at EMC Park.
The race will start and end at Marathon Elementary School and take runners past the bronze statue. UMass Memorial has signed on as the title sponsor, and Dick’s Sporting Goods is sponsoring the kids’ race to keep it free of charge. Russ Hoyt said Start Line Brewing also has come on board, so adult runners will be able to enjoy a beer after the race.
“The whole thing just came together with all of these pieces and the town has been amazing,” he said. “Everyone has been very supportive.”
The proceeds from the race will benefit Team Hoyt and its mission to increase access to athletics for people with disabilities. The organization has helped athletes acquire items like the running chair that Rick has used, an adaptive saddle for a competitive horseback rider, a blade for skiing, and other similar items.
“It’s all about trying to give individuals with disabilities the same opportunities to participate that Rick had,” Russ Hoyt said.
After a health scare and a bout with pneumonia about three years ago, Rick’s health is better than it has been in a long time, Russ shared. Rick has been receiving treatment at UMass Memorial and his lungs have improved, his brother said.
Asked what his father would think of the upcoming event, Russ said that his dad’s first instinct would be to say, “They should be honoring somebody else.”
But he was quick to point out that the grant is named for both Dick and Dick’s former wife, Judy, who was instrumental in helping to get laws passed to allow individuals with disabilities to be educated in public schools.
“He would love the fact that it’s about what both he and Mom accomplished,” Russ said. “The fact that we have this grant and that the race is going to support it, I think he would feel really good.”