It was to review a book called. Okay that's not really my thing but it's a book called Devoted: The Story of a Father's Love for His Son by Dick Hoyt.
You may not have heard of him...actually when I first saw the name I thought I never heard it...then I saw he was half of Team Hoyt.
If you're not familiar with Team Hoyt you should make yourself familiar. The team is Dick and his son Rick...they run marathons and Ironman triathlons together.
The one thing is that Rick has Cerebral Palsy. So in an Ironman for instance, Dick pulls Rick in a boat for the 2.4 mile swim, rides with Rick in the front of a modified tandem bike for the 112 mile bike and pushes him in a wheelchair for the 26 mile run. And they have finished them in the time limit.
With a quick check on a Sports Illustrated article I realize I must have first seen them in the 1989 Kona race because I saw them around that time and I saw them finish.
They are amazing.
But the story is more than about Dick's great physical ability...they are a great team.
They race because when Rick was 15 he told his dad he wanted to run in a 5k for a Lacrosse player who was paralyzed in an accident. After running he told his dad "Dad, when I'm running, it feels like I'm not handicapped."
From there they continued to larger races, marathons and the Ironmans. It's truly an amazing story and I can't possibly get to it all.
I was able to ask Dick a few questions...that's hard for me because he's asked questions all the time. But I came up with a few and here they are:
How has fatherhood in general changed you in a way you never thought? How has fatherhood of Rick, a child with special needs, changed you in a way in a way you weren't expecting?
I was one of a family of 10 growing up so I pretty much knew what fatherhood would be like. It really didn’t change me. My siblings and I were all very healthy. Judy (my wife at the time) and I were voted Class Couple – she was the head cheerleader and I was captain of the softball and baseball teams. So we were expecting a very healthy baby. We had never heard the words Cerebral Palsy or seen anybody in a wheel chair. As you can see and read, we are changing attitudes of people all over the world about individuals with special needs.
When you hit a wall in life or in a race what helps you to get the strength to get over it? How does Rick or your other children help you in that scenario?
I have never hit a wall in life, but did in our first marathon. When I saw Rick with that smile on his face, I said nothing is going to stop us. Rick is my motivation; he inspires me. I prepare myself mentally and physically and there isn’t anything that’ll keep us from finishing.
How are the Dynamics of Team Hoyt different when you're just hanging out with Rick vs when you're training or racing? For instance, do you share the same roles in both situations?
Team Hoyt is no different if we are just hanging out, training or competing…we share the same roles.
You have just under 48 more years experience of being a father than I do. My son was born January 22 this year. What's the best piece of advice you can give a new father?
My best advice is to spend quality time with your children. You are a family. Do things together. Be firm, but fair.
The really cool thing you see from his answers, and can read in the book, is he's just a normal dude doing his thing his way. In raising Rick he raised him like he would any child...which included him dragging him up to a rooftop that he was building a chimney.
The book Devoted, is pretty well written and it's a fantastic story (I say this being only halfway through..but I did skip to Rick's letter to his dad)...I think it's a really good read for any parent. There story inspires me.
p.s. I forgot to mention that sports writer Don Yaeger helped Dick out with the book...