Rick Hoyt, beloved Boston Marathon icon, dies after ‘complications with his respiratory system’

Rick Hoyt, the Boston Marathon icon who competed in his wheelchair pushed by his father Dick Hoyt, died Monday. He was 61 years old.

“It is with profound sadness that the Hoyt Family announces the passing of our beloved brother and uncle, Rick Hoyt this morning. Rick was 61-years-old. Rick passed away due to complications with his respiratory system,” the family said in a statement.

The father and son duo took part in numerous road races over the past several decades. Most notably they competed in 32 Boston Marathons.

The pair began competing together in 1977 when Rick, who had cerebral palsy which left him a quadriplegic, told his father he wanted to participate in a charity run for an athlete who had been paralyzed in an accident.

It was an life-changing experience.

“When I’m running I don’t feel handicapped,” Rick later told his father.

They took part in their first Boston Marathon in 1980 before retiring in 2014.

FALMOUTH – AUGUST 10: Dick and Rick Hoyt cross the finish line of the 31st SBLI Falmouth Road Race. (Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Over the course of several decades they completed over 1,100 endurance events, including 72 marathons and six Ironman Triathlons, and in 1992 they even biked and rode 3,735 miles across the United States in 45 days.

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 13: Rick Hoyt of Team Hoyt attends the 2014 Superman Hall Of Heroes Induction at Times Square on May 13, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/WireImage)

While Dick officially retired from racing in 2014, Rick continued until 2021, announcing his retirement months after his father died at age 80.

At the time he had been living at a 24-hour assisted living facility and the amount of time it would take to go to a race, participate, and return would exceed the “four or five hours” he could be away from the facility, the MetroWest Daily News reported.

In addition to racing, Rick helped change education.

His mother Judy Hoyt changed laws so her son and others were able to learn alongside their non-disabled peers. The Hoyt family also created The Hoyt Foundation to help young people with disabilities achieve as much normality as possible through daily life, including sports.

“As so many knew, Rick along with our father, Dick, were icons in the road race and triathlon worlds for over 40 years and inspired millions of people with disabilities to believe in themselves, set goals and accomplish extraordinary things.”

Rick was an inspiration to so many. May his legacy and memory live on forever. Rest in peace.

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