Dick Hoyt, who inspired thousands of runners, fathers, and disabled athletes by pushing his son in a wheelchair in dozens of Boston Marathons, has died at age 80, per the AP. Hoyt died in his sleep at his Holland, Massachusetts, home on Wednesday, says his family. He had been struggling with a heart condition for years. Dick Hoyt first pushed his son Rick, who is quadriplegic and has cerebral palsy, in the Boston Marathon in 1980. The pair completed 32 Boston Marathons together, until Dick, citing health issues, retired in 2014. He had planned on retiring after the 2013 race, but the father and son never finished because of that year's finish line bombing, so they came back one more time. The Boston Athletic Association, which runs the marathon, called Hoyt a legend.
“Dick personified what it meant to a be a Boston Marathoner, showing determination, passion, and love every Patriots Day for more than three decades," says the group. The 1980 Boston Marathon was not the Hoyts' first road race. In 1977, Rick told his father that he wanted to participate in a benefit run for a lacrosse player who had been paralyzed. They finished next to last, but that was just the start. “Dad, when I’m running, it feels like I’m not disabled,” Rick told his father after that first race, according to the website of Team Hoyt, the charity the family established to help disabled athletes. They participated in more than 1,000 races, including duathlons and triathlons, and in 1992 even completed a run and bike across the US, covering 3,735 miles in 45 days.
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