Team Hoyt – An Inspirational Story

August 22, 2006

NOTE: I’ve redone the previous posts on Team Hoyt and compiled them into this one. Video are embedded below.

The story of Dick and Rick Hoyt (teamhoyt.com) is not new but one that I’ve only heard and saw a few days ago. I’ve verified the story and it is true. It is more than Chicken Soup for the Soul. It is an illustration of the love of the Father for a lost world and the love of Christ for His Church.

Read what Rick Reilly of Sports Illustrated wrote in a 2005 issue about the Team Hoyt:

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 suck.

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 would sit in the chair and I would push him once.”

CAN – I can only imagine

TEAM HOYT TOGETHER

TEAM HOYT

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The SaltShaker, 1988 (Updated)

August 14, 2006

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Above is the scanned copy of the 1st issue of the Saltshaker, Vol. 1, No. 1, Oct/Nov 1998. Sam Shin was the Editor-in-Chief, I was the Senior Advisor. We had an Editoral Staff of 7 other friends. The Saltshaker was a birth out of the challenge Sam and I received from a retreat called “College Amen ’88 Retreat.” Though there were not many people at this retreat (about 45 college students and seminarians), it was a powerful event which was organized by Princeton Theological Seminary students (Paul Yang, Ron Chu, myself and others) who gave the messages, and praise led by Min Yong Chung and others from the University of Illinois who had a band called “Alpha Omega.” The Theme of the Retreat was “Becoming Salt and Light.” Here’s an excerpt of what I wrote in the first Saltshaker issue as I recounted College Amen ’88:

“Because there were only 45 people, the atmosphere was very intimate. By the end of the retreat everyone felt like they were part of one big family. The schedule emphasized small groups. The best part of this retreat was that we actually got to know people well. There were intimate times of sharing – many opened up about their honest struggle to know God and the problems they were having.

Through praise, prayer, listening to the Word and sharing, we all tasted what true fellowship of the Holy Spirit was…

Many people truly dedicated themselves to God. Some are seeking to go into ministry, others reconsidered what it means for Christians to be “in” in the world, but not “of” the world…

I believe that many who came to the college AMEN 88 retreat will become the future leaders of society as well as servants of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

How true that last sentence became. Of 45 people that were present at College Amen 88, many did go on to be influential and impactful leaders. The young leaders then — Paul Yang, Ron Chu, Min Chung, and others — are now Senior Pastors of significant ministries. Many of the college students who attended went into full-time ministry, like Sam Shin, and others rededicated themselves to be Salt and Light on their campuses and workplaces.

As I reflect on this past retreat, I realize how inadequate we were yet how sufficient God was. Those Princeton days for me (1986-1989) were times of struggle (as I wrestled with the liberalism of Princeton Seminary), but also a time of revival in the work of youth and college ministry. Not only AMEN 88, but so many events during those days which can only be characterized as “revival.” This revival was real in that it was not merely emotional but it bore the fruit of many changed lives (not only for the moment) and the scope of it was quite amazing. The sense of God’s presence was perceptible and irrestible, not only by those who came ready to worship and hear the Word, but by people who had little or no spiritual desire. I witness some amazing transformation of people who were, not only theologically, but perceptibly spiritually dead, to become in almost an instance “on fire for God.” This time of revival in the 80s and early 90s was lacking theological depth because its leaders were young and inexperienced. This is one of the reasons why this period may have been short lived and in the end bore many emotional excesses. However, it is undenial to me that the late 80s and early 90s were a time of renewal and revival, at least among the Korean Americans on the east coast. Often I find myself saying, “Lord, do it again!”… but with more depth.


Quote of the Week

August 14, 2006

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On my sidebar I have the “Quote of the Week.” It’s not quite weekly but I’ll change it from time to time. Past quotes can be found at my QUOTES tab on top. This week’s quote is from Henry Scougal, a 17th century English puritan who wrote a little book call The Life of God in the Soul of Man. George Whitefield, the great 18th century evangelist said of this book, “I never knew what true religion was till God sent me this excellent treatise.” It was Charles Wesley who had given him this book. Charles and John Wesley and Whitefield were part of a group call “The Holy Club” at Oxford.

The following quote also had an instrumental impact on John Piper and is mentioned in his book, Desiring God.

“The worth and excellency of a soul is to be measured by the object of its love. He who loveth mean and sordid things doth thereby become base and vile, but a noble and well-placed affection doth advance and improve the spirit into a conformity with the perfections which it loves.” Henry Scougal in The Life of God in the Soul of Man

Think about this quote and measure your soul by the what it loves. What do you love today?


I’m back

August 14, 2006

It’s been a long hiatus but here goes.

I have been reading Sam Shin’s blog and I would recommend you check it out. I must warn you, Sam writes alot, unlike me. However, much of what I hope this website, Reforming Korean American Ministry, can become, Sam is already doing – writing book reviews, interacting in depth with people, commenting on things theological and practical. Way to go Sam!!

Sam Shin and I are long time friends. We grew up together, though he’s a few years younger than me. Sam’s father was an elder at the church my father was the pastor. We grew up in New Jersey. In 1988, Sam and I started a newsletter called the SaltShaker which we distributed to over 20 campuses to Korean American Christian college students. I was a seminary student at Princeton Seminary and Sam was a college student at Rutgers Univ. We both didn’t know anything about publishing nor have any skills in graphic design but we had a passion to spread the news about what God was doing in changing many lives, including our own. The late 80s was at time of revival and renewal for myself, Sam and many others. I’ll write more in the next posting. Unlike Sam, my fingers get tired and my brain hurts after typing a few paragraphs.