“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.”
In 1962, Rick Hoyt was born to his parents, Dick and Judy. Due to oxygen deprivation at birth, Rick was diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. It was evident to his parents that despite his physical difficulties (he could not speak or walk), Rick was bright and wanted to communicate. So the Hoyts began to teach Rick the alphabet and helped him get an interactive computer which allowed him to communicate with others with a tap of his head.
Rick went on to attend public school and even get his bachelors degree from Boston University in Special Education. All of this was possible because his parents saw more in him than the “experts” did. They made Rick’s dream possible and opened doors for him. This is what parents do. But Dick Hoyt did something for his son that is truly extraordinary.
In the spring of 1977, Rick told his dad that he wanted to participate in a five mile run to benefit a lacrosse player who had become paralyzed in an accident. Even though he was not a long distant runner, Dick agreed to push Rick in his wheelchair for the whole race. They finished the race, coming in next to last. But they did it!
That night, Rick said to his father, “Dad, when I’m running it feels like I am not handicapped,” and an idea was born.
Dick and Rick, aptly now named “Team Hoyt,” began to participate in races all over the US. They began to do triathalons, duathalons, and marathons, six of them being the grueling Ironman races. Then in 1992, Team Hoyt biked and ran across America, covering 3735 miles in 45 days.
When they would do a triathalon, Dick would pull Rick with a bungee cord tied to a life vest attached to a small boat, then ride with him in a two-seat bicycle, and then finish by pushing him in his wheelchair the rest of the way.
The 2009 Boston Marathon was officially Team Hoyt’s 1000th race together. When Rick was asked what one thing would he give his father if he could, he replied, “The thing I would most like is for my dad to sit in the chair and I would push him for once.” What does this amazing story speak to us today?
It is an amazing testimony of the power of a dad. Dads matter. They put their strength and experience to work to help their kids do more than they ever dreamed possible. Great dads put the needs and the dreams of their kids above their own. Good fathers see potential and opportunity for their kids when others only see the obstacles.
Our heavenly Father sees us this way. He knows the plans He has for us (Jer. 29:11-12). He sees the potential in us far beyond what natural eyes can see. And He sacrifices, even giving His own Son to pay the price for our sin, to see us find peace, freedom, and joy. Our God is a good, good Father.
Take a moment with me today to say, “Thank you,” to a special dad in your life. Thank them for being a faithful provider, for going the extra mile, and for believing in us when others did not.
Our dads aren’t perfect. They stumble and sometimes fail us. But dads truly matter in this world. Study the statistics of what happens in kids lives when they never know the love and support of a good father. It’s tragic. There’s an answer to these problems: good fathers.
Rick Hoyt is a special dad. His example screams to me and other dads: “Go the extra mile. Help your kids dream. Sacrifice and give your life away for those you love the most.”
Thank you, God, for our dads. They truly matter. Thank you for being a perfect, loving Father to all of us. We love you and we are grateful.