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