Yes You Can!
Today, Rick and Russ Hoyt visited Marathon Elementary School to speak with the Kindergarten and first grade classes about Rick and his inspiring story.
Rick, who is a nonspeaking quadriplegic was born with cerebral palsy. In the early 1970s, the Hoyts asked a group of young engineers at Tufts University if they could build a machine that would help Rick communicate. At first, the engineers thought it would be a waste of time because they assumed that he could not understand people. They told the family that for $5,000 (about $35,000 today) they could build it. The money was raised, and in 1974 Rick got his computer. It was controlled by his head movements, allowing him to type by scrolling through rows of letters.
One day Rick wrote, “Dad, can I run a race to help raise money for an injured college athlete?” Dick said the now-famous words to his son, “Yes, you can!” After the race, Rick got back on his computer and wrote, “Dad, when we are running it feels like my disability disappears.” Dick and Rick became Team Hoyt. Dick pushed Rick in over 1,100 races, including the Boston Marathon 32 times and the Ironman Triathlon 6 times. Team Hoyt utilized a wheelchair at first, then developed a running chair to facilitate their participation as a duo. Dick passed away in 2021.
A full story of Team Hoyt’s incredible accomplishments was chronicled in this excellent piece by HBO’s Real Sports.
Soon into today’s talk, Russ turned to Rick and asked him to say a few words to the kids. The children sat patiently as Rick typed out the message and looked around in amazement to hear his words through his computer’s voice.
On May 27, the Hoyt Foundation and The Hoyt Family will host the first-ever Dick Hoyt Memorial “Yes You Can” Run Together race in Hopkinton. The event begins at 10 a.m. and features a five-mile run and a two-mile walk. Funds raised by the event will benefit The Hoyt Foundation, which aspires to build the individual character, self-confidence and self-esteem of America’s disabled young people through inclusion in all facets of daily life. Registration is still open.
In honor of Rick’s first run, where he was given the bib number “00”, all kids participating will also wear a “00” bib. The race will also feature a track inside the fence at EMC park for younger children.
As a gift to the school, the Hoyt’s brought with them a lithograph signed by Dick and Rick Hoyt. The work was created by Hopkinton HS Class of 2002 graduate and artist Dustin Neece.
Joining the event was Tim Kilduff, president of the 26.2 Foundation, which is breaking ground on the International Marathon Center in Hopkinton. Kilduff is a former race director of the Boston Marathon and past president of the Hopkinton Athletic Association, which has raised more than $100,000 to support the Hoyt’s over the years.