Archive for September, 2010

24
Sep
10

2010 American Red Cross Spokesperson of the Year Award

2010 American Red Cross Annual Meeting

“In 2004, Brian Boyle was the victim of a horrible car crash that caused catastrophic injuries and 60% blood loss.  He required over thirty-six blood transfusions, thirteen plasma treatments, numerous surgeries, and several months of hospitalization to bring him back to life. 

A long time spokesperson for the American Red Cross, and two time winner of this award, Brian raised the bar last winter after the publication of his book, Iron Heart. Knowing holidays can be one of the most difficult times to collect blood, Brian offered to help by hosting a series of Iron Heart blood drives, named after his autobiography.  Participants at these special blood drives received a copy of Brian’s book and many also had the opportunity to meet with him following their donation.  These sixteen blood drives, held in December and January during  one of the area’s heaviest series of snowstorms in history, collected 1,116 productive units of blood, including nearly fifty percent type O donations and twenty-five percent first time donors.

Boyle says, “By giving just a little bit of their time, the blood donors gave somebody like me a lifetime.  This is the power of donating blood, you’re not just giving blood, you’re giving life and there is no greater gift than that.”

Brian’s dedication to the mission of the Red Cross reminds the community of how one’s life can be touched by the act of donating blood.

Brian Boyle is our 2010 Spokesperson of the Year for the American Red Cross.”

16
Sep
10

Motivation at its Maximum

Media Credit: Elaheh Eghbal

Athlete Brian Boyle Tells Awe-inspiring Story 

“Blue and Grey Today” Hood College – Frederick, MD

They say that cats have nine lives. Brian Boyle may have used each one of those on July 6, 2004, when his car and body were shattered in an automobile accident. Told he had only minutes to live, Boyle defied all medical odds, and a little more than three years later, ran in the Ford Ironman World Championship. This is his story that he told at Hood College on Sept. 9 to an awestruck and astonished audience.

Boyle, who graduated this past May from St. Mary’s College, was an ordinary high school senior in 2004, looking forward to college life. After practicing for swimming, a sport in which he takes great pride, Boyle was struck by a truck. The impact smashed the entire driver’s side of his car and shifted his heart to the complete opposite side of his body.

An opening 11-minute video presentation immediately caught the audience’s attention at Boyle’s presentation. NBC had created a story on Boyle, which showed the extent of the accident and the excruciating pain that he and his parents went through.

His father, Garth Boyle, said, “I just wanted to have my little boy back. We cried for 30 minutes in disbelief [after learning of the accident].”

Boyle was in a coma for two months. He lost 60 percent of his blood, his lungs completely collapsed, and he lost a total of 100 pounds.

“My goals prior to the accident were shattered, just like the bones in my body,” Boyle said. Thoughts such as not going to college, never swimming, and never walking again all entered his mind. “I thought I was going to be stuck in this hospital bed the rest of my life.”

He wanted to give up, and at a certain point while in the hospital, he was set to do just that. That all changed when his biggest influence came into the room that afternoon.

“I saw [my mom and dad] right in my face. I will never forget that. And [my dad] said, ‘You are the only thing we have.'” Boyle said that after he heard that, he started to attempt to move his fingers, along with the rest of his body.

That movement led to walking with a walker, then a cane, and finally with only his parents at his side.

“I thought that if I could walk, I could swim. And if I could swim, I could run,” Boyle said. “Growing up, I watched [the Ironman race] on TV. Basically, when I graduated high school, it was go to college, swim on the team, and I wanted to do an Ironman. Those were my three goals. That is what I wanted to accomplish.” 

Boyle realized he could swim, and his first meet was against none other then Hood College.

Nov. 10, 2007 was the day that Brian Boyle knew he was back to normal. Confident in his swimming, he trained for only two weeks by running on a treadmill for hours. The Ford Ironman in Kona, Hawaii had arrived. The competition consisted of a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bike ride and finished with a 26.2 mile run.

Only three years after coming so close to losing his life, Brian Boyle was aiming to accomplish his third goal. “If you want to know how far you can go, this is the place,” he said. An individual has 17 hours to do it, and Boyle was no different this day.

One wouldn’t believe Boyle if he said no doubts crossed his mind while participating. “The whole way through, I had my doubts. About half-way through the swim, I got a cramp in my leg. I didn’t really know I was going to finish the race until I saw the finish line,” he laughed. “At about mile 25.9 [of the running portion], I knew I was going to finish. It took the visualization to realize I was going to finish.”

That visualization finally kicked in. Brian Boyle completed the Ford Ironman, one of the toughest tests the body can endure.

When asked if he ever thinks back to crossing that finish line at Kona with nostalgia, Boyle said, “It is a constant revisiting. That was the biggest race of my life and it still is. [That race] was the way of knowing I was fully back. I will cherish that forever.”

Boyle knows that this has made him who he is, and he doesn’t hide from it. “Every day is emotional. I laugh about it, I smile about it, and I’m a very happy person. But deep down, I am constantly thinking about it.”

He finds it important to visit the Red Cross, who named him spokesman of the year in 2007 and this current year, 2010. He goes to blood drives “to see the impact of what people are doing, the ones that saved my life. It is so motivational, so inspirational.”

Boyle just gave blood for the first time since his surgery in December and would recommend it to anyone because “it can save three lives.”

A well-deserved 30-second standing ovation followed his speech, after which questions were aplenty. Boyle stayed for over an hour to answer Hood students’ individual questions.

Some people would call Brian Boyle a hero. Others would say he is a motivator. To him, he is just a normal young man living life. “All you have is the present moment, tomorrow is not guaranteed. Never limit yourself and remember that when other people say that something is impossible, that’s just their opinion.”

View Article on Hood College’s Website

09
Sep
10

Speaking Event at Hood College

Receiving a special plaque from the captains of the Hood College swim team.

On September 8th, I had the privilege of visiting with Hood College and speaking to the Class of 2014 along with many upperclassman who also attended the event. 

Hood College has a very special place in my heart because they were the very first school that we competed with in my first college swim meet.  After going through all the hardship and adversity in the previous years, to be able to attend college and swim on the team was a dream come true for me.  I’ll never forget my first college swim meet because it was such a special time in my life and also in my recovery.  It was really cool to receive the invitation to speak at Hood because they were a part of my journey back to life.

As soon as I arrived on their campus, I was welcomed with open arms from the Associate Dean of Students, Ted Chase, who is such a great guy and made me feel right at home from the very start.  He gave me a quick tour of the campus and I was then introduced to an amazing group of student athletes who are involved with the SPURS program at Hood.  SPURS stands for Students Providing Understanding Resources and it is a peer-mentoring program that connects first year, first semester and in-season athletes with a select group of upper-class athletes who will help the new student to adjust to his or her new surroundings at the college.  Everyone was so nice and it was an incredible experience to have the chance to talk to the members of the program because they were such amazing and sincere individuals and the philosophy of the program was very inspiring.  At the end of the meeting, I was presented with a plaque that included all the information from my first swim meet against Hood and it really really meant a lot to me. 

After dinner, I gave my presentation to the Class of 2014 and I had a lot of fun getting to tell my story and interact with all the students.  As a recent college graduate, I felt that I was able to really connect with them on their level and go about expressing how important the next few years of their life will be.  I discussed a lot of issues that involved my background, what it was like for me transitioning from high school to college, and what I learned throughout my college career. 

The thing that I stressed most was that  life is really what you choose to make of it, the more you sacrifice and put in, the more you’ll get in return.  And in order to achieve great things, you must be willing to take big risks depending on what the task is.  All you have is the present moment, tomorrow is not guaranteed.  Never limit yourself and remember that when other people say that something is impossible, that’s just their opinion.  It really comes down to a positive mindset.  Go out there, set the goal, and be determined to do whatever it takes to achieve it.  If you put your mind to something, you can achieve great things.

To everyone who attended the presentation last night at Hood College, Thank You and I wish you all the very best in all that you choose to pursue in your college career and also in life.




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