BOSTON (AP) — Rick Hoyt, who with his father pushing his wheelchair became a fixture at the Boston Marathon and other races for decades, has died. He was 61.

Hoyt died of complications with his respiratory system, his family announced on Monday.

“Rick along with our father, Dick, were icons in the road race and triathlon worlds for over 40 years and inspired millions of people with disabilities to believe in themselves, set goals and accomplish extraordinary things,” the Hoyt family said in a statement.

Rick Hoyt had cerebral palsy, which left him a quadriplegic, but he and his father became as much a part of the Boston Marathon as sore feet or Heartbreak Hill. With Dick Hoyt pushing, the two completed the course 32 times.

The Boston Athletic Association presents a Rick & Dick Hoyt Award each April to someone who exhibits their spirit through advocacy and inclusion.

“Rick Hoyt will always be remembered as a Boston Marathon icon and for personifying the ‘Yes You Can’ mentality that defined Team Hoyt,” the BAA said in a statement. “We are fortunate to have been able to call Rick a friend, mentor, pioneer, and Boston Marathon finisher.”

The father and son pair also participated in more than 1,000 other races, including duathlons and triathlons; in 1992 they completed a run and bike across the U.S. that covered 3,735 miles in 45 days. In 2013, a statue of father and son was erected near the Boston Marathon’s starting line in Hopkinton.

Rick’s father, Dick Hoyt, died in 2021. His mother, Judith (Leighton) Hoyt, died in 2010.

“It’s hard to believe they both have now passed on but their legacy will never die. Dick and Rick Hoyt have inspired millions around the world,” said Dave McGillivray, the race director of the Boston Marathon and other events that the Hoyts participated in. “We will always be grateful, Rick, for your courage, determination, tenacity and willingness to give of yourself so that others, too, could believe in themselves, set goals and make a difference in this world as you have.”

Editor’s note:

Dick and Judith (Leighton) Hoyt were high school sweethearts who both graduated from North Reading High School in 1959. Although they later divorced, their devotion to their three sons, Rick, Robert and Russell, never wavered and their impact on improving the lives of all individuals with disabilities continues to be felt today. Where Dick and Rick forever changed the landscape of sporting events for those with disabilities, Judy was a pioneer in changing the field of education and mainstreaming children with disabilities. She founded the Association for the Support of Human Services (ASHS), a human service agency that created Kamp for Kids, the first ever summer camp for children with and without disabilities. Many North Readingites fondly recall attending the original camp with Rick Hoyt when they were children, before the Hoyt family moved from town.