“Don’t ever tell me I can’t” has been the motto that Rick, 72, has lived by his entire life. Rick began running when he was eight years old. He started training for the 800 meter dash in the 8th grade and continued competing throughout high school in Jacksonville, FL. At the age of 18, Rick competed in a National Decathlon at Montana State University where he fell on a cinder block, which severely injured his back and leg. Sadly, the accident prevented him from competing in the pre-Olympic trials.
For 10 years, Rick placed his passion for running on the back burner until 1974 when he decided to participate in a 5k in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. At the time, Rick was serving in the United States Army at Fort Benning. During the 5k, Rick was sprinting up a hill and tore his Achilles tendon, which once again prevented him from achieving his dream of competing in the Olympics. Rick finished out his service in the Army and National Guard in 1979, retiring with the rank of a Lt. Colonel in the National Guard and a Captain in the Army. He continued watching other Olympians compete and ultimately became inspired by Bruce Jenner’s speech. The gold medalist explained that he had to train part-time and work part-time in order to reach his victory in 1976. Jenner’s speech gave Rick the courage to try once more to continue his passion for competitive running—he started to compete in the River Run on a yearly basis to improve his abilities.
In 1990, Rick received a letter from the American Running and Fitness Association to join the US Marathon Team where he would compete against the Soviet Union—he set two world records. At age 46 he did a fitness decathlon and a marathon in one day, which had never been achieved before. In 1991, Rick received an invitation to attend the Olympics in Barcelona Spain as Captain Team USA. Rick felt incredibly honored as he continued his journey as a devoted athlete.
Currently residing at Brookdale Atrium Way in Jacksonville, FL, he remains active with the international Olympic committee. He recently recovered from being virtually paralyzed due to an infection in two of his vertebrae. Though doctors felt it would be hopeless for Rick to gain the ability to walk again, he did not let this discourage him. When he first caught news of his paralysis, Rick’s first question was, “How can I get into the para-Olympics?” Fortunately, Rick has regained most of his mobility and wants to attempt another River Run in the near future.
Due to Rick’s passion for track and field, his Wish of a Lifetime was to attend the Olympic Track and Field Trials. Wish of a Lifetime and Brookdale granted his Wish by sending him and Brookdale staff member, Chris, to Eugene, OR for three nights where they attended the trials on July 8, 2016. Rick was filled with joy from having this opportunity—during his Wish, he stated “I am having the best time of my life!”