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Family, Faith & Fun

World’s Greatest Dad

Perhaps you have heard of a man named, Dick Hoyt.  Many have described him as, “The World’s Greatest Dad,” and for good reason.  His son, Rick, suffered severe brain damage at birth and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.  Understanding the tremendous difficulties that lay ahead, doctors encouraged Dick and his wife to put their son in an institution. “He will be a vegetable all his life” they explained.

If you know their story, you know that Dick and his wife paid no attention to that advice.  In fact, they did the opposite.  Although their son could not speak nor use his arms or legs, they raised him just like any other child. Rick not only graduated from a public high school, he also graduated from Boston University.  Today, he lives in his own apartment aided by personal care givers.

Team Hoyt

Team Hoyt

What makes their story even more remarkable, however, are the almost impossible to believe feats they have achieved together. They are known as “Team Hoyt” and I encourage you to watch Mary Carillo’s “Real Sports” special called, “Labor of Love” regarding this father and son. You can find it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roZrT_tciKA

Their running together began some 32 years ago in a 5 mile charity race to help a paralyzed boy in their community.  Rick wanted to be an encouragement to others like him and got his dad to push him in a modified clunky stroller. Most assumed “Team Hoyt” would simply get to the corner, turn around, and come back. But when they got to the corner, they kept going.  They didn’t stop until they finished the entire 5 mile race coming in second from last. (They have never finished in last place.)

When they got home that night, Rick wrote on his computer, “Dad, when I’m running, it feels like my disability disappears.”  Dick was so moved by the joy his son experienced during the race that from that point forward he told his son, “I’ll be your arms and legs.”

The lengths to which Dick Hoyt has gone to fill his son with joy are truly remarkable.  To be more precise, Over the last 30 plus years, Dick has pushed, pulled, and carried his  son in close to 1,100 races — most of them being marathons, triathlons and ironman events.  If you are able to watch the video, you will see how their story has touched and inspired thousands of others — especially those whose children suffer from disabilities.

As a father, I couldn’t help saying “thank you” to the Lord for healthy children as I watched the video.  I also couldn’t help but wonder to what extent I would go to for my children.  And then, I couldn’t help but consider the unimaginable extent to which my Heavenly Father went for me…and you

“Since He did not spare even His own Son but gave Him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?” (Romans 8:32)

I remember a conversation I had with my dad about Lazarus.  We wondered if he was upset when Jesus called him back from the dead (see John 11).  Lazarus’ loved ones were, of course, overjoyed.  But Lazarus?  And then Dad said something I’ve never forgotten, that “…Lazarus had to die again.”  Now that would stink!

Dad then went on to discuss with me how Jesus came to save us, the real us, our souls — not our weak and broken bodies.  Lazarus didn’t need or want that broken down body anymore.  In my minds eye, I think of him going privately to Jesus and saying, “Hey man, thanks, but did you really have to bring me back?”

So I rejoice with “Team Hoyt” and the inspiration they bring.  But just like us, the only ending to their story that will make it all worthwhile is knowing the one who brought Lazarus back to life just by calling his name.

The truth is, as strong as we Dads would like you to think we are, we are very weak, imperfect people with all sorts of issues.  There is only one Father we can truly rely upon.  And this Father loves us so much, He didn’t spare His own Son so that we could live with Him…forever!  There is no other competition.  He is the World’s Greatest Father!

Happy Father’s Day!

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