The father-and-son team of Dick and Rick Hoyt, who have participated in more than 1,000 endurance events including 31 Boston Marathons, will be honored with the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the ESPYS in July.
The award is given in honor of late NC State basketball coach Jim Valvano, who inspired millions with his courageous battle against cancer in 1993.
Rick Hoyt, 51, was born with cerebral palsy and is unable to use his hands and legs. His father, 73, pushes him in a custom-made running chair during events including 5K and 10K races, marathons and triathlons.
The Hoyts, who are legendary in Boston and were recently honored with a bronze statue erected at the start of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass., started running together in 1977 in a 5-mile race. They finished second-to-last. After the race, Rick Hoyt told his father, "When I'm running, I feel like I'm not handicapped."
It was all Dick Hoyt needed to hear. They haven't stopped running in 30 years.
"Throughout their lives, Dick and Rick Hoyt have exemplified dedication and persistence, living out Jim Valvano's famous words about perseverance," Maura Mandt, executive producer of the ESPYS, said in a statement. "The Hoyts serve as a symbol of their hometown as they consistently display strength and resilience -- just like the city of Boston did in the aftermath of the marathon tragedy. Their numerous accomplishments have served as a true inspiration to many people and we're proud to honor them with the Jimmy V Perseverance Award."
The Hoyts, who have been featured in several documentaries and recently appeared on Katie Couric's nationally televised talk show, said the award captures their life philosophy.
"Rick and I are grateful to be receiving this award, and learning that Jimmy Valvano's motto was 'Don't Give Up, Don't Ever Give Up' is amazing as we have always said that there is no such word as 'can't' in the Hoyt vocabulary," Dick Hoyt said. "Our motto is 'Yes, you can' and we strive to always persevere even when others tell you that it cannot be done. We want to thank The V Foundation and the ESPYS for honoring us with this award."
The 2013 Boston Marathon was supposed to be their last, but after the bombings the Hoyts decided to tackle it again next year as a tribute to victims and survivors of the tragedy.