Book Review: One Letter at a Time by Dick and Rick Hoyt with Todd Civin


This was a unique book written by a man (Rick) that is a spastic quadrapolegic that can not talk, walk or even feed himself. He literally wrote this book, thus the name of the book. Dick and Rick Hoyt are well known in the triathlon community for their participation in Ironman Triathlon events as the father Dick, towed his son in the water for 2.4 miles, pushed him on the bike for 112 miles and run a 26.2 mile marathon to complete the event. They have done many of these events together among other races, like the Boston Marathon (Rick’s favorite). It’s really a great story and amazing to take a journey through the book into the mind of a person that was shut out of conversation for so many years of his life. During the early years, before a communication device was developed for him, Rick was only able to communicate with noises and nods. As you can imagine, communication was cumbersome for everyone involved. As I read the book I could almost experience the feelings Rick had while being shut out of conversation. How difficult it must have been to not be able to contribute input, ideas, thoughts and suggestions to conversations. For those of us that don’t face this challenge it seem unimaginable!You can see him using his communication device in this book trailer:

One thing is really apparent through the book and that is that Rick’s family was willing to take on the challenge of involving him in everything, especially his mother. They didn’t seem to limited their activities as a family because of him. He was just part of it all. Rick was very cared about, and has a very positive outlook on life as well as a great sense of humor. I love that! It is clear that we can learn many lessons from him and “pay attention to the good in the world.” No doubt his life has taught us the meaning of love and dedication. I especially appreciated how he took the opportunity in the book to teach us how to treat others with disabilities stating “We should not feel bad for them but feel good about them.” We should not be afraid to go up and talk to them. We all have limits, some have more severe limits than others, but we all have them. It’s okay to accept them, but we should still strive to excel and accept each other. Sometimes we need to accept our limitations and strive to excel at whatever we choose to do.As an athlete my hat goes off to his father, Dick. He is truly an amazing athlete to be able to tow and push his son through all of the many events he did. Many people just struggle to get themselves across the line. Both Dick and Rick seem to have an inner strength that is unique and I can only hope to find in the athletes I coach. As a coach, I really loved this particular quote in the book:

“The dream begins, most of the time, with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you on to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called truth.” ~ Dan Rather

So true. You have to believe to achieve and we all need each other to get better. The truth isn’t always easy to swallow but it causes us to be realistic and prods us on and drives us to see what is possible.Coach Lora EricksonThis touching story is worthy of your endurance library collection. To learn more about how you can obtain your own copy visit

Inspirational Video Clip Dick & Rick Hoyt (Ironman Triathlon)

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