Canadian hockey fans cheered on Sidney Crosby as he took home the NHL award at the ESPYs, ESPN’s annual awards show, on Wednesday night, but the big news for runners was Rick and Dick Hoyt winning the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance.
The father-son team is a familiar sight to Canadians who have run the Boston Marathon, as the two have competed in that race together 31 times.
Rick, 51, was born with cerebral palsy and is bound to a wheelchair, but with the help of his father, Dick, 73, the Hoyts have participated in more than 1,000 races, including six Ironman triathlons.
At the ESPY ceremony in Los Angeles, actor-director Ben Affleck presented the honour to the Hoyts.
‘‘I can’t hardly believe we are here,” Rick Hoyt said through a computer-generated voice program that allows him to speak. “Thirty-seven years ago nobody would even talk to us … It only proves the wisdom of Jimmy V’s words: ‘Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.’’’ The award is named after Jimmy Valvano, the legendary North Carolina State basketball coach and broadcaster.
Team Hoyt was official launched in 1977 when, after their first race, a 5-mile benefit run for a lacrosse player who had been paralyzed, Rick told his father: “Dad, when I’m running, it feels like I’m not handicapped.”
The pair did their 1,000th race at the 2009 Boston Marathon, which they consider their favourite event. There’s a bronze statue of the pair at the start of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Massachusetts that was dedicated in April 2013, the week before this year’s race. The Hoyts weren’t able to finish the Boston Marathon this year as they were stopped, along with many other runners, about 1.5K from the finish line because of the bombings.
Watch this amazing video of the Hoyts (and keep a hankie nearby):