Dick Hoyt, a True American Hero

I’ve been writing a lot lately about how we seem to have lost our way in this country; about how we value material possessions over family, friends, and belief in a higher power of our choosing. Today I was reminded that there are people who have never lost sight of what is most important in this life.

Dick Hoyt is one of these people. Soon after the birth of his son, Rick, he learned that the child had Cerebral Palsy. Doctors counseled the parents to put the child in an institution, since they were certain he would never walk or talk and would spend his days in a vegetative state. Fortunately, Dick did not listen to their advice. Instead, he raised Rick alongside the other children. When the other kids swam in the lake, Rick was supported in the water. When they traveled, Rick went too. And he responded – in a way that the doctors would have deemed impossible. Watch the inspirational story of “Team Hoyt” in the video, below.

I am in such awe of this family and especially of Dick. We often idolize celebrities, politicians, and sports figures, and they may well be great people. But in my book, Dick Hoyt is a true American hero. He’s a man who has his values in the right place.

1 thought on “Dick Hoyt, a True American Hero”

  1. I wrote the below post about Mike, the Upholsterer… the comment below it was posted by a reader (his son, it turns out). These are people who know what is truly valuable.
    FRIDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2009

    I went to my local upholsterer, Mike, today to see about some slip covers. Mike is 83 years old. His wife died two years ago at 80 of undiagnosed cirrhosis of the liver. They were married 60 years.

    Mike was a soldier in WW II and had 5 days of R & R in Nice, France. On his first day there he saw her walking on the street and he said the one phrase he knew in French and she stopped to talk with him in her broken English. They saw each other over the next four days (a movie, dinners) before he shipped out. When he returned to the States a year later he wrote to her, sent her an engagement ring and she came to the US. They were married shortly after she arrived. She worked as a hair dresser and Mike worked at the local Anaconda copper mill in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY and when they closed the factory he went to school to learn the upholstery business. He works by himself and has now been in the same small shop (his second) for 18 years. It’s across the street from the empty Wonderbread warehouse on route 9A. He is listed in the yellow pages as “Dependable Upholstery”.

    Mike has two kids, four grandchildren, one great grandchild and a second on the way.

    I showed Mike the material we chose for our slip covers from one of the sample books he gave me. On my way home my cell phone rang, “Steve, it’s Mike. Hey I am sorry but they do not carry that material any more. I am really sorry buddy but what can I do? I hate these suppliers – they lie”.

    I told him not to worry about it – I’d come in next week and choose another material. I am looking forward to it.


    mrjunction said…
    Mike (the Upholsterer) is my dad, and he is an amazing person. He has more energy in one finger than I do in my entire body. At 83 years of age he still gets up for work, cooks, cleans the house, drives his grandchildren around…all with a smile on his face. He is rarely, and I mean, rarely in a bad mood…even though he has had a tough life.
    He grew up poor, and his mom passed away when he was two. His dad, who immigrated from Italy spent the majority of my dad’s youth in jail, so he was raised by his maternal grandparents. He grew up with his aunts and uncles who were of a similar age. At 18 he went into the Army to fight the war (WW II). While he was overseas, his older brother (by a couple of years) was killed in action in the Philippines. But even with all of this heartache and turmoil, there is not one ounce of depression in his body…never feels “Why Me?”…never acts like the world owes him something.
    My dad never considered himself a success, and at one point in my life I told him that this was unacceptable! He couldn’t be more of a success as a M-A-N. My wish is to be more like my father (Mike). The world would be a much better place if everybody was.
    My dad, Mike, is my hero…..sounds like a success to me!


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