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Grief’s Dichotomy
April 2013
by George Galdiano

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” – Acts 20:35

During his birth, Rick Hoyt went from being a perfectly normal and healthy baby to a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy within minutes because of an umbilical cord accident. Experts advised his parent to institutionalize Rick because he would never have a chance at a normal life. They didn’t, and even as they struggled to teach him the alphabet and basic words, they pushed people to look past his physical limitations.

When Rick was 11-years-old, his parent took him to Tufts University to see if there was a way to help Rick communicate. At his parents’ instance, engineers hooked Rick up to a computer that let him control the cursor by touching a switch with the side of his head. The first thing Rick pecked out was, “Go Bruins!” The Boston Bruins were in the Stanley Cup finals that season. It was now clear that while his body was handicapped, his mind was not.

When a high school classmate was paralyzed in an accident, the school organized a charity run. “Dad, I want to do that,” Rick typed on his computer. Despite considering himself a “porker,” Dick pushed his son five miles for the event. They came in next to last, and Dick was sore for two weeks, but afterwards, Rick tapped out a message that would change their lives: “Dad, when I’m running, it feels like I’m not handicapped.”

Fueled by love, the 2009 Boston Marathon was Team Hoyt’s 1,000 race– 6 of which were Ironman competitions. Out of twenty four Boston Marathons, their best time is 2 hours and 40 minutes, which is just 35 minutes shy of the world record. Finishing a triathlon or marathon in itself is amazing, but doing it while hauling an extra 110 pounds is mind boggling.

Two years ago, Dick had a mild heart attack during a race. A medical exam revealed that one of his arteries was 95% blocked. “If you hadn’t been in such great shape,” a doctor told him, “you probably would have died fifteen years ago.”

In the process of giving to his son, Dick saved himself. And in a way, Rick helped save his dad too.

In the same way, I think when we help someone with his grief, we are also helping ourselves. Whether it is one grieving parent reaching out to another or a NILMDTS photographer photographing a baby that will never go home, we become more when we give ourselves away.

In 1993, Rick graduated from Boston University with a degree in special education. You can learn more about Team Hoyt here:


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