“Yes, You Can”

Team Hoyt finds a home In Coeur d’Alene

By Taylor Shillam

With the mantra, “Yes, you can,” Team Hoyt began with a father-and-son team whose incredible achievements fought the odds and took a stand for universal inclusion and possibility. After a history of finding strength in uncertainty, theirs is to empower anyone with a disability to enjoy physical exercise and the outdoors.

Officially, team Hoyt is a 501(c)(3) corporation created in the honor of the famed running and triathlon duo Dick Hoyt and his son Rick.

The organization’s social media pages state, “No matter your disability, no matter your age, we’re here to get out and enjoy the beautiful Idaho outdoors. Together.” Their mission, based on the duo’s unwavering “Yes, you can!” motto, has found its home in Coeur d’Alene.

Team Hoyt values the outdoors, making new friends and inclusion for all—and for that, the active North Idaho community couldn’t be a better fit.

The organization makes it all possible by helping to provide the required gear for participants and assembling running volunteers to stay with participants until the finish line.

According to the story described by Team Hoyt Coeur d’Alene, Team Hoyt originated with Rick and Dick Hoyt, who are now widely known for their participation in the Boston Marathon and countless Ironman competitions. The challenges they have overcome together began decades ago, beginning from Rick’s date of birth.

When Rick Hoyt was born in 1962, his umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck, restricting the oxygen supply to his brain.

Following a diagnosis as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy, Dick and Judy brought their son home, despite doctors’ recommendations to institutionalize him. The Hoyts saw their son’s potential and readiness to interact with the world and committed to give him a normal upbringing.

In 1972, they rallied their community to raise $5,000 in donations through fundraising events such as bake sales and dinner parties, saving up to pay engineers at Tuft University to build a unique interactive computer for Rick. The computer would allow Rick to communicate through messages typed on an alphabet pad connected to the pad on his wheelchair headrest.

The beginning of their passion for races originated a few years later, in 1977. At Rick’s request, Dick pushed his son through an entire 5-mile run that would benefit a high school lacrosse team player who had recently been paralyzed. Despite Dick never having been a runner before, the pair finished next-to-last (not last) and was declared Team Hoyt going forward. Rick told his father that day that running made him feel like he wasn’t handicapped.

Something immensely special happened that day, and there has been no stopping the pair since.

As a perfect example of the truth behind their mission statement (“Yes, you can!”), the pair behind Team Hoyt has finished countless distance races, including 255 triathlons (six being Ironman distance and seven being Half Ironman distance), 22 duathlons, 72 marathons (32 being the Boston Marathon), 95 half marathons, 35 Falmouth 7.1-milers, and several more distance races.

With the gorgeous scenery and active community that Coeur d’Alene residents are lucky to call home, this location is a beautiful one for an outdoor fitness-based organization to thrive.

In the 2020 season, team Hoyt was set to participate in the Hauser Lake Icebreaker Run on April 5, the Downtown Coeur d’Alene Spring Dash on April 18, The Donut Dash Fun Run on May 16 and the Coeur d’Alene Marathon, among several more events scheduled into the summer.

Of course, in light of the pandemic we face today, changes have had to be made. Due to safety recommendations set in place during the COVID-19 outbreak, the 2020 event schedule remains uncertain for Team Hoyt.

As of late March, the Hauser Lake Icebreaker Run has been cancelled for this year. The Spring Dash has been converted to a virtual race which can be completed anywhere—on your favorite running route, track, or at home on the treadmill. Your time can still be submitted online to be listed in the event results, and participants are eligible to receive a race bib and shirt.

Negative Split is currently working to put emergency planning in place for the Coeur d’Alene Marathon, half marathon and 10k scheduled for May 24 in McEuen Park. While the 2020 event schedule is, like many things are at this time, subject to change, the Coeur d’Alene community is encouraged to stay connected and supportive of Team Hoyt.

Follow along with Team Hoyt Coeur d’Alene on Facebook as they continue to post schedule updates and opportunities to join virtual events, such as story times with branches of Team Hoyt from around the country. Staying in contact with fellow team members during this time will only contribute to a stronger, happier reunion in the future.

Team Hoyt immensely values and recognizes support they continue to receive from the community. Community donations have made it possible for the organization to pay race entry fees, purchase running chairs, provide gear to participants and hold strong in times of need.

The organization appreciates both corporate sponsorships and individual donations. You can donate and learn more about the Coeur d’Alene branch of Team Hoyt by visiting TeamHoytCdA.com. Continue to stay in touch with them on social media as we collectively strive to maintain the strength embodied by the organization’s founders. Yes, you can!