Hoyt’s honored with statue
Boston Marathon principal sponsor John Hancock Financial this morning unveiled a sculpture of Rick and Dick Hoyt in front of Center School in Hopkinton, Massachusetts near the start line of the world famous marathon. The life-sized statue was commissioned by John Hancock and sculpted by Texas artist Mike Tabor.
The piece is titled, “YES YOU CAN!” and represents Team Hoyt’s goal of helping those who are physically disabled become active members of the community. Next Monday April 15th the Hoyts will compete in their 31st Boston Marathon.
These days the Hoyts have a world-wide following, and are an inspiration to countless thousands. But I can remember when the Hoyts got started racing. Back then it was a personal matter, two people with shared DNA and a common love for a sport. They weren’t thinking of what their passion for running might exemplify or represent beyond themselves. That’s the best kind of inspiration, the unintended kind.
In the late 1970s the WACKY 102 Five-Mile Road Race in Springfield, Massachusetts offered a television set as its first-place prize. That TV and the promise of a good time — in the race and after — was enough to draw athletes like Greg Meyer, Randy Thomas, and Bobby Hodge. Even 1976 10,000 meter Olympian Garry Bjorklund was on hand from Minnesota.
The first mile was a gentle downhill, as I recall, and as I hit the split in just under 5:00 I remember coming up on a man pushing a younger man in a wheelchair. My first thought was, “damn, that guy is fast”, rather than “isn’t that an inspiration.” Needless to say, it was Dick and Rick Hoyt just being part of the New England road racing scene, before fame came calling.
But we have to also remember that not very long before that race and those good times the idea of a boy with cerebral palsy joining in a mainstream anything was unheard of, and certainly unseen. I know. Continue reading