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Inspirational Parenting: The Story of Team Hoyt
I am slowly drifting off to sleep when my son, who not too long ago was being entertained by a movie, puts his face really close to mine and whispers not so quietly, “Momma, wanna play Membery (otherwise know as Memory).” I sigh and slowly adjust to being awakened and I really just want to say no, “No honey, mommy does not want to play memory for the 20th time today. What mommy wants to do is take a quick nap before we have to pick your sister up and all hope is lost for resting today.” But I look into those big, brown, pleading eyes and succumb as usual to his impish grin. Memory it is again and I sacrifice my one fleeting chance at a nap to make my son happy.
When I think about this moment and many other similar ones, where the answer is no, I feel a mixture of guilt and thankfulness. On one hand, I am so blessed to have happy, healthy kids but on the other hand I feel like in a lot of ways I could be doing more with my kids. I face the same problems that most working parents do: I get the kids up and going, eat breakfast, rush out the door, and try to get in car line at the exact time that will allow me to not be late for work. I do my job and pick my kids up from school then it is off the gymnastics, t-ball and other extracurricular activities. I am rushing from one place to another trying to fit in the grocery shopping and getting dinner ready that it is sometimes hard to stop and spend real quality time with my children. I know that if someone asked me, “Would you do anything for your children?” I would reply, as most others would, with a resounding yes. But if I stop and think about the question and I am truly honest with myself, would that really be the case?
I sometimes wonder who the parents are who are asked that question and then prove it in their everyday lives. When I watch the news or see stories on the internet, all I see are the stories of the parents who have failed their children in one way or another, whether through abuse, abandonment, or other such atrocity. Where are the parents who are getting it right? I want to turn the news on or read an article about the mothers and fathers who sacrifice everyday to do the best they can for their kids. I finally ran across a story on Facebook about one father that I believe is doing everything he can for his son, who deserves to have his story told.
Dick Hoyt’s son, Rick, was born as a spastic quadriplegic and is confined to a wheelchair. In 1977, Rick asked his father to run in a local 5k with him and although they finished next to last, this would be the start to over 1000 races they would run and continue to run today. After the race Rick told his father, “Dad, when I’m running it feels like I’m not handicapped.” The duo has competed in many races but none more challenging than the Ironman competition. For those of you who don’t know, an Ironman is considered one of the toughest races to do. To do this race as an individual you would have to swim 2.4 miles, and then bike 112 miles, followed by running a half-marathon, 13.1 miles, a tough challenge for the healthiest of participants. Because Rick is confined to a wheelchair, his father tows him in a raft while swimming, then carries him to a specially designed bike that he rides on the front of, and for the run, Dick Hoyt pushes his son. The first attempt at this race, Team Hoyt wasn’t able to finish the swim in a quick enough time and they were not allowed to continue on with the race. That did not deter Dick from fulfilling his son’s wishes and they came back to complete the race multiple times. To put it in more perspective, the fastest time it took the father-son team to complete the race was 13 hours 43 minutes and 37 seconds. Just stop and think about what you did in the last 13 hours and imagine swimming, biking, and running for that entire time carrying someone else.
My children may never ask me to run a full Ironman or any race with them or do anything to that extreme. But I ask myself if they did how would I respond and in the meantime what can I do today, in the daily grind of life, to make them feel like I would? I know there are some days where being a parent isn’t easy in fact it is down right stressful. On those days I take a minute to watch a short video about Dick and Rick Hoyt to put things in perspective. So I ask that you look at your kids in the next 13 hours when you are tired and don’t feel like playing one more game of memory or read one more bedtime story, to think about Dick Hoyt and what he did when he was asked by his son to run a race. Just know that your kids aren’t usually asking a lot but if they did, what would you do?
For more info on Dick and Rick Hoyt please visit: www.teamhoyt.com
For more info on triathlons please visit: www.usatriathlon.org
For more info on Ironman races visit: www.ironman.com