Posts Tagged ‘ironman triathlon

24
Jan
13

The Huffington Post: Art as a Form of Therapy

Brian Boyle, Time is of the Essence, 2006, graphic pen and charcoal on paper, 24 x 36in., (artwork © Brian Boyle)

Brian Boyle, Time is of the Essence, 2006, graphic pen and charcoal on paper, 24 x 36in., (artwork © Brian Boyle)

Every artist has a focus and a story to tell. My name is Brian Boyle, and this is my story.

My life changed drastically on July 6, 2004. One month after I graduated high school, I was coming home from swim practice and was involved in a very serious car accident with a speeding dump truck. The impact of the crash knocked my heart across my chest, breaking most of my ribs, clavicle, pelvis, collapsing my lungs, bloodloss of 60 percent damaging every major organ in my body, causing severe nerve damage to my left shoulder and left me in a coma where I was on life support for over two months at Prince Georges Hospital Center in Cheverly, MD.

In the blink of an eye I went from being a high-school graduate to a practically lifeless body on my deathbed. As for the future, it did not exist. My life was ripped away in an instant, and all that I had left as a reminder was a broken body covered in scarred flesh and a fragmented memory of what happened.

My rehabilitation and therapy was not just physical, it was also psychological and emotional. It was therapeutic for me to put my thoughts on paper, through writing, drawing and also through photography. For many hours of every day, my pen was my psychiatrist and I spoke through it subconsciously, and my emotions poured out onto the paper and into the computer.

I did not have an actual memory of the accident taking place, but I remembered most phases of the coma, and after a few weeks of getting strong enough to write and draw skillfully again, I explored my tragic past in order to confront and understand what happened to me.

The intense concentration that took place while visualizing and illustrating the subject matter helped me focus into the subconscious memories that lay beneath the surface of my mind. Having the ability to put my thoughts and memories down on paper was very therapeutic because it was the most efficient form of self-expression, which allowed me to embark on an internal journey in search of understanding.

Art portrays who I am as a human being and shows my inner feelings that cannot be expressed by words; recreating scenes from my memory of being in a coma, hallucinations, never-ending operations and the often hopeless atmosphere. To illustrate these scenes, I often use symbolic colors and images, disorienting compositions of blurred first-person perspectives and other methods that will recreate the memories.

This is what makes art so extraordinary, because an image that appears to be a blotch of colors is actually an expression of the artist’s emotions. I can create a different interpretation of my work, just by adding a variety of color-coordinated textures and value changes. An artist portrays their thoughts and feelings into their work by using neutral colors like gray and blue to show a feeling of peace, or use more vivid colors like red and orange to show rage or anger, and most importantly the essence of life, the substance of blood. The usage of black and white colors shows a clear boundary of life and death.

I try to use different effects like this in my artwork to catch the viewer’s eye; elongating a certain stroke or angle can change the whole perspective of a painting or sketch. Whether I’m drawing a picture of the intersection that my accident took place, or trying to recreate the feeling of being comatose, the art that I create attempts to put these fragments of my agonizing past together again.

Brian Boyle, Comatose, 2010, film, 2:00 (artwork © Brian Boyle)

Brian Boyle, Comatose, 2010, film, 2:00 (artwork © Brian Boyle)

Click here to view short film, “Comatose”.

I strongly believe that life is a learning experience in itself because every day you discover a new element that makes you stronger as an individual. Art is symbolically similar to life because art represents the essence and nature of life, which makes art as well as life a learning experience.

When I begin a new project, whether it’s digital, print or audio, I usually do not have a starting place or final product in mind. I just start drawing and it leads to a subconscious exploration of the haunting and fascinating visions of my past.

After the first mark on the paper is put down, I am flooded with memories that are visual representations of my subconscious. My method of reaction will vary, but my hope is to confront these images on a visible scale in order to make sense of them and from doing this these past few years, I finally have the closure that I have been seeking.

My journey back to life has been a very slow and often difficult process, and my art has also been a journey in itself to understand and confront this process.

15
Jan
13

The Huffington Post: Brian Boyle Resumes Triathlon Racing, Becomes American Red Cross Spokesperson

slide_258811_1676306_freeBrian Boyle died eight times after a dump truck sidelined him on his way home from swim practice, but the resilient athlete just wouldn’t let go.

Boyle was 18 years old when the force of a horrific crash pushed his heart across his chest and damaged every major organ in his body eight years ago. Doctors weren’t sure he would survive, let alone ever walk again, according to the American Red Cross.

But after undergoing several life-saving surgeries, a medically induced a coma, intensive rehabilitation and receiving 36 blood transfusions, the Welcome, Md., man gradually recovered and now dedicates his life to competing in triathlons and giving back to the donors who saved him.

“Thirty-six blood transfusions. That’s 36 people who took an hour of their time to save the life of someone they would never know,” Boyle told The Washington Post. “When I compete in a race, it isn’t just me out there: There is also a team of many blood donors being represented, and crossing that finish line is my way of saying thank you for their gift.”

And Boyle has crossed many a finish line. He achieved his lifelong dream of competing in the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii just three years after his accident. This year alone, Boyle has competed in two Ironman races and one marathon. He dons the Red Cross logo on his chest each time.

“I wanted to test my body,” he told courant.com after finishing his most recent marathon on Oct. 13. “I felt so limited, so restricted throughout my recovery. I was Brian the Sick Boy. The Boy in the Wheelchair. Now it’s Brian the Ironman.”

Boyle also honors his blood donors by emulating them, especially during a time when the Red Cross is facing a 15-year low in blood supply. He’s donated blood five times, according to the Red Cross.

“During a race when I feel my heart racing and my blood pumping, these were once signs that I was dying,” Boyle wrote on redcross.org, “now these are signs that I am living, and thanks to the Red Cross, living is something I don’t take for granted.”

To read full article, please visit this website.

23
Aug
12

IRONMANLIFE: BRIAN BOYLE’S AMAZING JOURNEY

ImageWant a good reason to donate blood? Meet Brian Boyle, who is a national spokesperson and volunteer for the American Red Cross.

Kevin Mackinnon profiles an amazing IRONMAN survivor, Ironman.com

Boyle is passionate about what the Red Cross does because, were it not for the 36 blood transfusions he received, he wouldn’t be alive, let alone finishing yet another Ironman, which the 26-year-old did last Saturday in New York.

On July 6, 2004, Boyle was driving home from swim practice when he was involved in near-fatal car accident with a speeding dump truck. How “near-fatal?”

“My heart went across my chest, my ribs were shattered, my pelvis was shattered, I broke my left clavicle, I had a collapsed lung and I lost about 60 percent of my blood,” he told me in an interview last Thursday.

After his accident, he died eight times, only to be revived by the medical staff. Boyle went through 14 different operations, had those 36 blood transfusions and was in a coma for two months. When he finally came around, he started the long road back to recovery.

Boyle would eventually return to his college swim team. Three years after his accident, he finished the IRONMAN World Championship.

“That race was so significant because going through the recovery process I felt so limited,” he says. “I felt like Brian the sick boy, the skeleton in the wheelchair. It took something as extreme as the Ironman to complete the healing. That day was a great day, the best day of my life.”

Boyle hasn’t just settled to with that, though. He’s gone on to use his journey to help so many others. It’s a miracle he had enough energy to get to the start line in New York last week – he’d spent most of the week before raising awareness for the American Red Cross, which is facing 15-year-low in blood donations right now.

“Brian has done a tremendous amount to raise awareness about the need for blood,” says Donna Morrissey from the American Red Cross. “Brian is the type of person who connects one on one or in a group of hundreds. By sharing his story Brian gives people hope and enables people to have strength. In the end he inspires people to give blood or make a difference in their community. He’s just this extraordinary individual that connects with people and puts the needs of others first. He’s someone who never gives up. Can you imagine someone dying eight times, but then coming back and competing in, and completing, the IRONMAN several times? Those two things, in themselves, are something most people couldn’t imagine ever doing. He is bringing together the IRONMAN competition – what it takes to be this extreme athlete, but also the heroism of a generous volunteer blood donor who comes in and gives to help others.”

The Aquadraat IRONMAN U.S. Championship won’t likely be the last time we’ll see Brian Boyle at an IRONMAN. Boyle was inspired by the “stories and the race” growing up, which is one of the reasons he was so determined to complete an IRONMAN after his accident.

Last Saturday Boyle finished in New York in just under 11 hours. It wasn’t quite the sub-10 he was hoping for, but an impressive time considering the tough course. An impressive time considering the fact that if he was a cat he’d be on his last life.

Boyle is the living embodiment of what we call the IRONMAN spirit. He’s just taken it even further – he’s showing us all how important it is to remember our human spirit and help others, too.

22
Dec
11

Charlotte Observer Newspaper: Determination links generations of ‘Ironmen’

My grandfather and I at the 2008 Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Clearwater, Florida

This is a newspaper article that was published in December 2011, and I wanted to post it in on my blog to celebrate the Air Force retirement of my grandfather, which took place on January 31, 2012

DETERMINATION LINKS GENERATIONS OF ‘IRONMEN’

Charlotte Observer, by Joe DePriest

Catawba County (North Carolina) native Joe Lineberger, 80, and his grandson, Brian Boyle, 25, are best friends. They hang out, talk a lot and enjoy the company. What’s more: they inspire each other. They’ve inspired me since I’ve gotten to know them over the past few weeks.

When Boyle told me about his grandfather’s recent “Spirit of Service” award from the U.S. Air Force, he didn’t mention his book about recovering from a near fatal auto accident as a teenager. “Iron Heart” by Brian Boyle with Bill Katovsky (founder of Triathlete magazine) was first published in 2009 and a paperback version came out on Nov. 15.

Lineberger brought up the subject of his grandson soon after we first talked. He asked if I knew about Boyle’s injuries, his comeback and completing a dream of finishing an Ironman Triathlon.

That’s how it went: grandfather and grandson putting the emphasis not on themselves, but the other. There’s an energy going on here – a sharing of strength. 

As a kid, Lineberger picked cotton on a Catawba County farm and later worked in his uncle’s grocery in downtown Maiden. Three uncles served in World War II and he was proud of them. At Maiden High, he played football, baseball and basketball – dreaming of going to Duke University. His family couldn’t afford the tuition so Lineberger joined Duke’s R.O.T.C. program and worked odd jobs like waiting tables in the university dining hall and selling football programs at games.

He was determined to succeed and earned a bachelor’s degree from Duke. Later, he’d get a master of business administration degree from the University of Chicago.

Action in Vietnam

Lineberger’s Air Force career began in 1953; he retired 28 years later as a colonel, but stayed on as a civilian employee. At 80, Lineberger still works full-time at Andrews Air Force Base and the Pentagon. He’s a Senior Executive Service member, the equivalent of a three-star general. 

The “Spirit of Service” award is for more than 50 years of service, including assignments with Air Force headquarters in Washington and the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force. Lineberger was military assistant to the assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower, Reserve Affairs and Installations under five assistant secretaries. 

During the recent awards ceremony Michael Rhodes, director of administration and management in the office of the Secretary of Defense, talked about Lineberger and others who were being honored that day. “….They’ve had a hand in creating the world we live in today,” he said. “For more than five decades, each of the tremendous public servants we’re celebrating today has ensured our military strength and readiness. They meant business and they got business done.” 

Lineberger has pulled his share of administrative duties. But he was also awarded the Bronze Star for taking part in ground action during the bloody 1968 Tet Offensive in Vietnam. He was in Cholon, the Chinese section of Saigon, where some of the most intense fighting took place. 

The Vietnam War is a subject he knows first-hand. He’s researched Congressional Medal of Honor nominations for two Air Force heroes killed in Vietnam and shepherded the paperwork through the system: From the Joint Chiefs of Staff and defense department to Congress and the White House. “I guided them through the hoops,” Lineberger said. “I know the hoops. I’ve been through them before.”

One of those Medal of Honor winners, Airman Bill Pitsenbarger, is the subject of a movie that will be filmed next year, partly in the Carolinas and Georgia. Lineberger is one of the consultants on “The Last Full Measure” with an all-star cast that includes Bruce Willis, Robert Duvall, Laurence Fishburne, Morgan Freeman and Charlie Hunnam. 

Lineberger has many relatives and friends in North Carolina and wishes he could get back more often to see them. Maybe the movie will give him the chance. 

Meanwhile, he’s still working with the Air Force because “it keeps the mind fresh,” Lineberger told me.

His wife, Mary Helen, died seven years ago. They had five children. Boyle is the oldest of nine grandchildren. 

Although Lineberger keeps in shape by walking, he doesn’t do the grueling Ironman Triathlons and marathons Boyle takes on. But Lineberger is often at the finish line to offer encouragement.  The fact his grandson is out doing all that physically challenging stuff is nothing short of a miracle. 

Learning to walk

Boyle, who lives in Welcome, Md., was 18 when he headed home from swim practice one day and a dump truck rammed into his Camaro. Air-lifted to a shock-trauma hospital, he’d lost 60 percent of his blood, his heart had moved across his chest, and his organs and pelvis were pulverized.  In a coma for two months, he eventually came to and relearned how to walk, run and swim. 

He’s won all sorts of competitions, graduated cum laude from St. Mary’s College of Maryland and in 2010 was awarded the American Red Cross Regional Spokesperson of the Year award for the second year in a row. 

Boyle has been featured on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” NBC’s “Today” show, ESPN, and in The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Fitness magazine, Runner’s World – the list goes on and on. You can get all the details in “Iron Heart: The True Story of How I Came Back From the Dead.” 

Boyle survived because of his ironclad determination. He got that from his grandfather – somebody Boyle said “I want to and will try to emulate the rest of my life.” 

A “model of determination,” Boyle called him. “And most of all, a hero.” 

I’d call both of them “ironmen.”

To read more, please visit here.




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