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Team Hoyt gives voice to 'Devotion'

Appearance aids work of Elm Hill Farm

Bonnie Keefe-Layden, the chief executive officer of Rehabilitative Resources, Inc., of Sturbridge, is joined by Dick (center) and Rick Hoyt, the father-son running team who have been supportive of efforts to help Elm Hill Farm in Brookfield become a center of activities for people living with disabilities. (click for larger version)
November 14, 2010
WEST BROOKFIELD — Team Hoyt brought their "Yes you can!" spirit to work for an organization striving to instill that message with area special needs residents.

Dick and Rick Hoyt, the accomplished father and son running team from Holland, were the guest speakers at Blanchard Means Foundation annual Gala Fundraiser held at the Salem Cross Inn Friday, Nov. 5. An audience of 137 people heard the Hoyts inspirational speeches.

The $17,000 raised at the event will aid restoration efforts at the historic Elm Hill Farm in Brookfield, which has been run by Rehabilitative Resources, Inc., of Sturbridge (RRI), since 2009. In addition to offering therapeutic horseback riding programs, a petting zoo, musical events, and seasonal experiences like Spookywalk in October, RRI is focused on establishing new programs for all visitors to the Elm Hill Farm, including people with special needs.

"Our Victorian House has been renovated with new heating and security systems, but we still need to improve the older buildings on the farm so people can use them," said RRI Chief Executive Officer Bonnie Keefe-Layden, who also serves on the Blanchard Means Foundation board of directors.

The Hoyts have participated in more than 1,000 road races together in locations spanning the globe, including 25 Boston Marathon events. Rick, who has cerebral palsy, is pushed by Dick in a specially designed wheelchair during running competitions, and the duo has also partaken in several triathlons during which Dick pulls Rick in a specialized inflatable boat and rides with him on a custom tandem bicycle. Together, they founded the Dick and Rick Hoyt Foundation in 1989 to help promote the inclusion of disabled people in community activities and sporting events across America.

Last March, the Hoyts toured the Elm Hill Farm and were impressed by the various programs offered to disabled people. Three months later, the Dick and Rick Hoyt Foundation presented RRI with a $25000 check to assist the company in restoring the farm complex.

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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