Corridor Nine Chamber honors members at annual meeting
By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Region – Dick Hoyt, who, with his son Rick, forms the iconic duo Team Hoyt, was the keynote speaker at the Corridor Nine Area Chamber of Commerce annual meeting held May 17 at the Charter Oaks Country Club in Hudson.
Over the course of 30 minutes, Hoyt told the nearly 200 business leaders in attendance the inspirational and tremendously moving story of Team Hoyt.
As their many fans across the globe know, for the past 40 years, the Hoyts have participated in numerous marathons, triathlons and road races. In doing so, Dick pushes Rick, who has cerebral palsy, in a specially built wheelchair, pulls him in a boat by a belt that is connected to the boat and wrapped around Dick’s waist, or pedals on a bicycle built for two with Rick sitting on the front seat.
When Rick, who is now 56, was born, he suffered a lack of oxygen to his brain, leading him to be diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. His parents were advised to institutionalize him – there was little hope, they were told, that their son would live a “normal” life.
The Hoyts refused to give up on Rick and instead fought diligently to get him services and integrate him into the public school system. Rick, who now communicates via a special interactive computer, went on to attend Boston University, graduating with a degree in special education in 1993.
It was when Rick was a teenager that he heard of a 5k race that was to be held to benefit a classmate who was left paralyzed after an accident. Although he had never run such a race before, Dick agreed to push Rick in his wheelchair over the course. After they had finished, Rick told his father, “that it feels like I’m not handicapped,” when they were running. Hearing that, Dick knew he needed to do something that would help Rick sustain that feeling.
And so he has, with the two thrilling their fans as they competed in over 1,000 road races, marathons and triathlons (including six Ironman distances and seven half Ironman distances). In doing so, they have also become powerful advocates for those with disabilities, paving the way for others to take on challenges as well.
“Our motto is ‘Yes, you can,’” Dick stressed to the Corridor Nine audience. “’‘Can’t’ is not in the Hoyt vocabulary.”
In 1987, they founded the nonprofit Hoyt Foundation, Inc., which “aspires to build the individual character, self-confidence and self-esteem of America’s disabled young people through inclusion in all facets of daily life, including in family and community activities, especially sports, at home, in schools, and in the workplace.” (For more information visit www.teamhoyt.com).
Although he is the one providing the physical manpower, listening to Dick speak, it is obvious that he feels Rick contributes just as much to each event, if not more. The love, admiration and pride he feels for his son is evident in every one of Dick’s words and actions.
After his presentation, the audience, visibly moved, gave him his second standing ovation of the morning.
The chamber also honored several members during the breakfast including:
Corporate Business of the Year: UniBank
Small Business of the Year: Michael Mills, Certified Professional Business Coach, Business Coaches and Associates
Barbara Clifford Leadership Award: Donna Cox, Owner, Cox Tutoring Group
Business Forward Females Leadership Award: Dawn Smith, Private Wealth Advisor, Oasis Financial Services
Outstanding Young Professional of the Year: Courtney Gatta, Home Loan Specialist, Fidelity Bank
Committee Recognition: Ambassadors Committee
Chamber Champion: Davis Cox, Partner, Davis Financial Associates
Lifetime Achievement: Paul Williams, Vice President, Eastern Insurance Group