December 4, 1990


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Many people enthusiastically romance the idea of running a marathon. They start training, but very few make it through the training periods. Another group will make it to the race—but then won’t finish. And a select few will tough it out and cross the finish line—no matter how long it takes them. And if you ask these finishers, they’ll tell you it took too long, but they’re still full of the sense of self-satisfaction and personal challenge that comes with pushing yourself to succeed. It’s that sense of self-achievement that often pushes these people to finish in the first place.

Dick Hoyt, however, was driven by a different fuel tank. The golden spirit of giving—to his own son, nonetheless—pushed him to complete not one, but more than 20 marathons. I know sons can inspire fathers to do great things, but 20 marathons!

Dick Hoyt had the perfect motivation. His son, Rick, has had cerebral palsy since birth—but he never let that stop him from getting involved. When Rick was 15 he asked his father if he could participate in a five-kilometer race to benefit an athlete paralyzed in an accident. Dick jerry-rigged a chair to use to push his son in to complete the race. The smile, the gratitude, and the feeling of accomplishment that Rick felt convinced his father to continue on their journey—which they’ve been doing since 1981.

And about the tendency for marathon runners to think they didn’t run fast enough, take note: Dick and Rick Hoyt took 16 hours and 14 minutes to finish a race in 1999—and that was an improvement of two hours since their first marathon.

Since that first race, they’ve participated in every Boston Marathon, an Ironman Triathlon World Championship competition, and various other races throughout the year. Dick doesn’t run the races for the awards, the fame, or the prestige. He does it to give something to his son. The finish line lay before him, but the energy to get from start to finish was built on the desire for good, the right, and the true. Dick has the deep hunger to practice the Power of One.

Giving frees us from the familiar territory of our own needs by opening our mind to the unexplained worlds occupied by the needs of others.—Anne Frank

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