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  1. #1

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    Have Kleenex ready...

    Strongest Dad in the World
    Rick Reilly for Sports Illustrated

    I try to be a good father. Give my kids mulligans. Work nights to pay for their text messaging. Take them to swimsuit shoots.

    But compared with Dick Hoyt, I'm lousy.

    Eighty-five times he's pushed his disabled son, Rick, 26.2 miles in marathons. Eight times he's not only pushed him 26.2 miles in a wheelchair but also towed him 2.4 miles in a dinghy while swimming and pedaled him 112 miles in a seat on the handlebars -- all in the same day.

    Dick's also pulled him cross-country skiing, taken him on his back mountain climbing and once hauled him across the U.S. on a bike. Makes taking your son bowling look a little lame, right?

    And what has Rick done for his father? Not much -- except save his life.

    This love story began in Winchester, Mass., 43 years ago, when Rick was strangled by the umbilical cord during birth, leaving him brain-damaged and unable to control his limbs.

    "He'll be a vegetable the rest of his life," Dick says doctors told him and his wife, Judy, when Rick was nine months old. "Put him in an institution."

    But the Hoyts weren't buying it. They noticed the way Rick's eyes followed them around the room. When Rick was 11 they took him to the engineering department at Tufts University and asked if there was anything to help the boy communicate. "No way," Dick says he was told. "There's nothing going on in his brain."

    "Tell him a joke," Dick countered. They did. Rick laughed. Turns out a lot was going on in his brain.

    Rigged up with a computer that allowed him to control the cursor by touching a switch with the side of his head, Rick was finally able to communicate. First words? "Go Bruins!" And after a high school classmate was paralyzed in an accident and the school organized a charity run for him, Rick pecked out, "Dad, I want to do that."

    Yeah, right. How was Dick, a self-described "porker" who never ran more than a mile at a time, going to push his son five miles? Still, he tried. "Then it was me who was handicapped," Dick says. "I was sore for two weeks."

    That day changed Rick's life. "Dad," he typed, "when we were running, it felt like I wasn't disabled anymore!"

    And that sentence changed Dick's life. He became obsessed with giving Rick that feeling as often as he could. He got into such hard-belly shape that he and Rick were ready to try the 1979 Boston Marathon.

    "No way," Dick was told by a race official. The Hoyts weren't quite a single runner, and they weren't quite a wheelchair competitor. For a few years Dick and Rick just joined the massive field and ran anyway, then they found a way to get into the race officially: In 1983 they ran another marathon so fast they made the qualifying time for Boston the following year.

    Then somebody said, "Hey, Dick, why not a triathlon?"

    How's a guy who never learned to swim and hadn't ridden a bike since he was six going to haul his 110-pound kid through a triathlon? Still, Dick tried.

    Now they've done 212 triathlons, including four grueling 15-hour Ironmans in Hawaii. It must be a buzzkill to be a 25-year-old stud getting passed by an old guy towing a grown man in a dinghy, don't you think?

    Hey, Dick, why not see how you'd do on your own? "No way," he says. Dick does it purely for "the awesome feeling" he gets seeing Rick with a cantaloupe smile as they run, swim and ride together.

    This year, at ages 65 and 43, Dick and Rick finished their 24th Boston Marathon, in 5,083rd place out of more than 20,000 starters. Their best time? Two hours, 40 minutes in 1992 -- only 35 minutes off the world record, which, in case you don't keep track of these things, happens to be held by a guy who was not pushing another man in a wheelchair at the time.

    "No question about it," Rick types. "My dad is the Father of the Century."

    And Dick got something else out of all this too. Two years ago he had a mild heart attack during a race. Doctors found that one of his arteries was 95% clogged. "If you hadn't been in such great shape," one doctor told him, "you probably would've died 15 years ago."

    So, in a way, Dick and Rick saved each other's life.

    Rick, who has his own apartment (he gets home care) and works in Boston, and Dick, retired from the military and living in Holland, Mass., always find ways to be together. They give speeches around the country and compete in some backbreaking race every weekend, including this Father's Day.

    That night, Rick will buy his dad dinner, but the thing he really wants to give him is a gift he can never buy.

    "The thing I'd most like," Rick types, "is that my dad sit in the chair and I push him once."



    Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryCTIigaloQ

    There is a special place in heaven for dads like this!

  2. #2

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    Re: Have Kleenex ready...

    ok, that made me cry like a baby!! thank you hon for posting that, makes me look a little closer at my mom skills thank you so much ...... I am off to get klinex!!

  3. #3

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    Re: Have Kleenex ready...

    awwwww I went and saw the video, I am crying like a baby. it was very touching

  4. #4

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    Re: Have Kleenex ready...

    The video is incredible! I love the song!

  5. #5

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    Re: Have Kleenex ready...

    That was just amazing, thank you so much for posting it



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  6. #6

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    Re: Have Kleenex ready...

    And it's true too!!! Go go gadget snopes:

    http://www.snopes.com/glurge/teamhoyt.asp

    That is awesome!!!
    I am grateful... grapefruit! ~ Bjork (upon winning Best International Female Artist at the BRIT Awards)



    Founding Member of the BA!

  7. #7

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    Re: Have Kleenex ready...

    Here is more about them: http://www.teamhoyt.com/

  8. #8

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    Re: Have Kleenex ready...

    That definately made me cry. Im gonna have to pass that around. Thank you so much for posting it.
    "I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I'm going to be happy in it. "Groucho Marx

  9. #9

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    Re: Have Kleenex ready...

    Talk about a lump in my throat.....beautiful!
    What time is the 3 o'clock parade?




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  10. #10

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    Re: Have Kleenex ready...

    Absolutley beautiful
    Buy Genius eau de toilette: Made with 1% Inspiration

    Happiness is returning after a much regretted hiatus!!!

    BOO!

  11. #11

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    Re: Have Kleenex ready...

    awwww it's things like this that make me have some hope in Humanity.
    "Tonight I wash my hands of you
    You set the bar I could not live up to
    Tonight the light is breaking through
    So thank you very little and send me postcards from hell"
    Zebrahead

  12. #12

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    Re: Have Kleenex ready...

    wow what am amazing story.. yes i was crying .. still am

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  13. #13

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    Re: Have Kleenex ready...

    That is such a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing
    Fratsor Sister - Delta Mu Chi Alpha

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  14. #14

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    Re: Have Kleenex ready...

    I read that article in Sports Illustrated several months ago. Rick Reilly is one of my favorite columnists. Thanks for posting it.

  15. #15

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    Re: Have Kleenex ready...

    What a totally awesome story. I urge anybody to read that and watch the video and NOT cry.

    Truly amazing.


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