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Dad, disabled son vow to return to run final Boston Marathon

Dick Hoyt ran his 31st Boston Marathon last week thinking it would be his last.

But now the 72-year-old father, who has pushed his disabled son in a special wheelchair in 1,091 races, he's planning to run the marathon again next year – tells him to The Daily Mail.

Hoyt's resolve to compete again sprang from the tragedy of the twin bombings at the race, which killed three people and injured more than 170.

'We’re definitely going to run next year, and we’re going to be stronger next year, and I know the marathon is going to be stronger next year,' Dick Hoyt told NBC's Today Show.

'I don’t know how they’re going to handle [all the people]. It’s just unbelievable,' he added. 'All these people are so strong and we’re going to be strong, and we’re going to stay strong.'

Hoyt's 51-year-old son, Rick, has cerebral palsy and is unable to walk or talk. The pair was at the 25-mile mark when the two bombs went off about a mile away.

'As we got closer, things didn't look right,' Hoyt said.

He said police were swarming the final stretch of the prestigious route so he asked an officer what was going on.

'He told me two bombs had detonated at the finish line,' the father said.

'That's when I got really worried. I knew my son and his wife and my two grandsons were waiting for us at the finish line,' Dick added.

Thankfully, their family escaped injury. But the chaos left the concerned Holland, Massachusetts, man wondering how to get Rick back to their hotel.

A police officer suggested they take a taxi but Rick's running chair is too big to fit in a cab.

That's when a a good Samaritan in a Jeep offered to give them a lift and, according to Today.com, managed to navigate their way through the blocked streets and frantic crowds to the entrance of the Sheraton.

Once Dick had carried his son to their room the magnitude of what happened began to sink in, he said.

'The thing about the Boston Marathon is that it's always such a joyful day,' Dick told the website. 'Everybody's so happy and it's such a positive attitude. And then to have this happen?... 'What kind of a world are we living in nowadays?'

The truly special bond between the heroic father and his courageous son was honored with a life-sized trophy before the marathon's start last week after the inspirational pair finished 1,091 events, including 252 triathlons, 70 marathons, 94 half marathons and 155 five-kilometer races.

Despite being unable to complete Monday's race, the father-and-son team still maintained their proud record of never having finished last as thousands of other runners were also prevented from crossing the line.

Rick was born with cerebral palsy and is quadriplegic, the result of oxygen deprivation at birth.

At his birth, doctors were blunt. 'They said, 'Forget Rick, put him away, put him in an institution, he's going to be a vegetable for the rest of his life,' said Dick told the Today Show earlier this month.

'Today he's 51 years old and we still haven't figured out what kind of vegetable he is - and guess what? That vegetable has been turned into a bronze statue.'

The statue was unveiled outside Boston's Center Elementary School to honor Team Hoyts' racing record, which began in the mid 70s.

Never even thinking for a second to institutionalize their son, the Hoyts decided to raise him like his two brothers.

They took him camping, cross-country skiing and swimming at the beach and enrolled him into school - where he learned to spell words with his eyes - one at a time.

Using a computer device specially designed to allow him to communicate, Rich graduated from high school and from Boston University and now lives on his own with personal care attendants.
It was during school that he told his father he would like to participate in a five-mile charity run for a Lacrosse player who had been paralyzed in an accident.

'Rick came home ... and he said, "Dad, I have to do something for him. I want to let him know that life goes on even though he's paralyzed. I want to run in the race," said Dick Hoyt.

Dick agreed to push his son in his wheelchair and they completed the run together.

Later that night, Rick told his father: 'Dad, when I'm running, it feels like I'm not handicapped.'

That sparked the creation of Team Hoyt, an astonishing feat of love and courage that has seen the father and son compete in more than 1,000 races, including marathons, triathlons and Ironman competitions.

During triathlons, Dick pulls his son in a boat from a cord attached to his waist during the swim, the pair ride a special two-seater bicycle for the bike section and Dick pushes Rick in a custom-made running chair for the final stage.

The incredible pair set up the Hoyt Foundation in 1989, which aims to include disabled young Americans into daily life, especially through sports, in school and in the workplace.

In 2009, they completed their 1,000th race together at the Boston Marathon, which is why the event holds such a special place in their hearts.

The two had a special wheelchair designed for them and Dick recalled how people didn't understand what they were trying to do together.

'I used to get letters and phone calls saying, 'What are you doing dragging your son to all these races? Are you just looking for glory for yourself?' Dick Hoyt recalled. 'What they didn’t realize was that he was dragging me to all these races!'

When asked the one thing he would like to give his father, Rick said: 'The thing I'd most like is for my dad to sit in the chair and I would push him for once.'

Both men now give talks across the U.S., as well as continuing to compete in events together in a bid to encourage other disabled young people to challenge themselves.

They have been competing as a team for more than 30 years, and their website says they have no plans on retiring.

Their schedule for 2013 includes 25 other races.

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