Cool wheels, big smiles

Kootenai Family Dental sponsored Team Hoyt CDA with racing chair


Nick LaRose, business administrator at Kootenai Family Dental, gets ready to push a chair for a distance race.

Kootenai Family Dental has found a new way to put smiles on faces. The practice recently gifted Team Hoyt Coeur d'Alene with a racing chair-- and not just any racing chair.

 “They bought us the Cadillac of racing chairs,” says Team Hoyt Cda founder and president, Laurie Aikins. “They are the first local business to jump in and they've been over-the-top supportive.”

 Partnering with Team Hoyt Cda made perfect sense to Nick LaRose, business administrator at Kootenai Family Dental. He and his wife, dentist, Alexis LaRose, purchased the practice in 2012, and made giving back to their community a mission and a mandate.

 “We are always looking for ways to grow our giving and our involvement in the community,” he says. “And we hire people who are equally committed to giving back.”

 That's why it's no surprise that Team Hoyt Cda was first brought to his attention by hygienist Maria Scaletta, who serves on the board of the nonprofit.

 “When Maria presented the idea of purchasing a racing chair, it really resonated with me and the whole office,” says LaRose.

 Founded in April 2016, Team Hoyt Coeur d'Alene was created in the shadow of the famed father/son running duo Team Hoyt, and one of only seven chapters in the world.

 The nonprofit had its genesis when Rick Hoyt was born in 1962 and was diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. His parents, Dick and Judy were advised to institutionalize him.

They refused.

 In 1977, Rick competed in his first race, pushed by his father. Afterward he told his dad, “When I'm running I feel my disability disappears.”

 And Team Hoyt was born. Since that time the duo has finished a host of races including 255 triathlons. The nonprofit was started to help other disabled athletes compete. Their motto is “Yes You Can” and Aikins was honored when Dick Hoyt encouraged her to start a chapter in Coeur d'Alene.

 “I've known Dick and Rick for about 10 years,” she says.

 A runner herself, she was thrilled to be invited to run with their team in the Boston Marathon.

 “The first time you lay hands on a chair and you push it across that finish line, everything comes together," says Aikins. “You see the crowd and hear the cheers, and best of all you see the look on a disabled athlete's face. It's incredible.”

 LaRose is also a runner and he and Alexis are outdoor enthusiasts.

 “I already enjoy racing and being active,” he says. “When Maria told us about this opportunity, we felt like it perfectly reflected our desire to want to make a difference in our community. We feel like God has blessed us and has given us the ability to give back.”

 Kootenai Family Dental has a reputation for community investment. They support Christian education in Coeur d'Alene, and created The Smile Program at their office. The Smile Program provides dental work at no cost to people in need.

 Recently, the practice was voted No. 1 in the Best of North Idaho competition sponsored by North Idaho Business Journal.

 “If we take care of people, the rest will take care of itself,” says LaRose expressing their patients-first philosophy.

 Not only did the practice purchase a racing chair for Team Hoyt Cda, but when needed LaRose and Scaletta serve as volunteer pushers.

 “It will force me to get in better shape!” he says, laughing.

 The chair they purchased can convert from running chair, to bike trailer, and can be used in triathlons. Currently, the team has eight chairs; four running and four combination running/biking chairs. They've competed in approximately a dozen area events. 

“If I can give a kid or an adult the opportunity to race, well, that's incredible,” LaRose says.

Aikins adds that Team Hoyt Cda welcomes disabled athletes of all ages and disabilities.

“There's no age limit-- no disability limit,” she says.

And with the gift of this new racing chair, even more people will be able to experience the satisfaction of competition and the thrill of crossing a finish line.

 “I can't thank Kootenai Family Dental enough,” Aikins says. “Without them we wouldn't have the equipment that allows disabled people to race and puts the smiles on their faces.”

To donate or learn more about Team Hoyt Coeur d'Alene visit

--Written by Cindy Hval, Special Writer to the Coeur d'Alene Press

--Written by Cindy Hval, Special to the Press.

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