“When we were running, it felt like I wasn’t disabled anymore”

First, read this copy of an SI article by Rick Reilly on Dick and Rick Hoyt, father-son triathlete and marathon running team. Who are they?

Dick and Rick Hoyt are a father-and-son team from Massachusetts who together compete just about continuously in marathon races. And if they’re not in a marathon they are in a triathlon — that daunting, almost superhuman, combination of 26.2 miles of running, 112 miles of bicycling, and 2.4 miles of swimming. Together they have climbed mountains, and once trekked 3,735 miles across America.

It’s a remarkable record of exertion — all the more so when you consider that Rick can’t walk or talk.

For the past twenty five years or more Dick, who is 65, has pushed and pulled his son across the country and over hundreds of finish lines. When Dick runs, Rick is in a wheelchair that Dick is pushing. When Dick cycles, Rick is in the seat-pod from his wheelchair, attached to the front of the bike. When Dick swims, Rick is in a small but heavy, firmly stabilized boat being pulled by Dick.

At Rick’s birth in 1962 the umbilical cord coiled around his neck and cut off oxygen to his brain. Dick and his wife, Judy, were told that there would be no hope for their child’s development.

“It’s been a story of exclusion ever since he was born,” Dick told me. “When he was eight months old the doctors told us we should just put him away — he’d be a vegetable all his life, that sort of thing. Well those doctors are not alive any more, but I would like them to be able to see Rick now.”

From the Reilly article:

[A]fter a high school classmate was paralyzed in an accident and the school organized a charity run for him, Rick pecked out, “Dad, I want to do that.”

Yeah, right. How was Dick, a self-described “porker” who never ran more than a mile at a time, going to push his son five miles? Still, he tried. “Then it was me who was handicapped,” Dick says. “I was sore for two weeks.”

That day changed Rick’s life. “Dad,” he typed, “when we were running, it felt like I wasn’t disabled anymore!”

Reilly continues:

This year [2005], at ages 65 and 43, Dick and Rick finished their 24th Boston Marathon, in 5,083rd place out of more than 20,000 starters. Their best time? Two hours, 40 minutes in 1992 — only 35 minutes off the world record, which, in case you don’t keep track of these things, happens to be held by a guy who was not pushing another man in a wheelchair at the time.

“No question about it,” Rick types. “My dad is the Father of the Century.” . . .

Rick, who has his own apartment (he gets home care) and works in Boston, and Dick, retired from the military and living in Holland, Mass., always find ways to be together. They give speeches around the country and compete in some backbreaking race every weekend, including this Father’s Day.

That night, Rick will buy his dad dinner, but the thing he really wants to give him is a gift he can never buy.

“The thing I’d most like,” Rick types, “is that my dad sit in the chair and I push him once.”

You can pick up more information at Team Hoyt.

On Faith and Knowledge

If you haven’t been reading John Stamps’ series of reflections on St. Gregory Palamas over at The Orthodox Way blog, you’re missing out on a real treat. Take, for example, his most recent post, Who can argue against life?–the Triads of St Gregory Palamas.

Here are two snippets to whet your appetite.

Orthodox faith is deeper than moving around mental concepts between our ears. Jesus’ parable of the wise man and the foolish man (Matthew 7:24-27) comes to mind here. If your faith is ultimately built on mere argument and conjecture, how can it possibly stand against the storms of doubt that assail us?

And this:

St Gregory’s bottom-line to his fellow monk: Trust your own experience with God and don’t be swayed by mere argument. If your belief in God is based exclusively on arguments pro or con, then you’ll constantly be changing your mind. Doubt yourself. Doubt your own intellectual capacities. Doubt anything, but don’t be so foolish as to doubt the experience of the saints. But by his belligerence shown towards the Athonite monks, Barlaam demonstrates that he would rather prove himself in the right than accept the age-old traditions of Eastern spirituality. He would rather argue than pray!

Now St Gregory doesn’t renounce the “outer learning.” It is perfectly fine for gaining knowledge of the world. What it doesn’t do is tell us anything accurate about God.