Brian Boyle, author of Iron Heart, visits St. Patrick High School in Biloxi, Mississippi

sp_highschoolAs part of the annual summer reading assignments at St. Patrick Catholic High School, students in ninth through twelfth grade read and studied Brian Boyle’s Iron Heart: The True Story of How I Came Back from the Dead.  This past Thursday, students had the unique opportunity to meet Boyle as he spent the day at St. Patrick addressing the student body, signing autographs, and taking photos.

Iron Heart is the personal narrative of Boyle’s triumph over tragedy.  Nearly eight years ago on the way home from swim practice, eighteen-year-old athlete Brian Boyle’s future changed in an instant when a dump truck plowed into his Camaro. He was airlifted to a shock-trauma hospital. He had lost sixty percent of his blood, his heart had moved across his chest, and his organs and pelvis were pulverized. He was placed in a medically-induced coma. When Boyle finally emerged from the coma two months later, he had no memory of the accident. He could see and hear, but not move or talk. Unable to communicate to his doctors, nurses, or frantic parents, he heard words like “vegetable” and “nursing home.” If he lived, doctors predicted he might not be able to walk again, and certainly not swim. Then, miraculously, Boyle clawed his way back to the living. First blinking his eyelids, then squeezing a hand, then smiling, he gradually emerged from his locked-in state. The former swimmer and bodybuilder had lost one hundred pounds.

Iron Heart is the first-person account of Boyle’s ordeal and his miraculous comeback. With enormous fortitude he learned to walk, then run, and eventually, to swim. With his dream of competing in the Ironman Triathlon spurring him on, Boyle defied all odds, and three and a half years after his accident, crossed the finish line in Kona, Hawaii. Boyle’s inspiring journey from coma to Kona is brought to life in his acclaimed memoir.

On Thursday, St. Patrick students began their morning by listening to a presentation from Boyle where his discussed the importance of persistence and courage.  Prior to the presentation, students and faculty submitted questions to Boyle through the school website.  One intriguing question was asked by religious studies teacher Terry Creel, “How do you hope your story can be used to promote life issues in the culture of death we are surrounded by?”  Being raised in the Catholic Church, Boyle explained how it was through his Catholic faith that he was able to regain life and recover.  He mentioned that he hopes the book will show people how precious life truly is, and that it will inspire people to continue moving forward despite the challenges with which they are faced.

Boyle currently attends Johns Hopkins University working toward a dual Master’s degree in business and communication, and he plans to seek a doctorate in the near future obtaining his degree.  Iron Heart is an emotional, yet motivational, story of endurance and perseverance that encourages people to enjoy life to the fullest and count their blessings every day.

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