Posts Tagged ‘iron heart


Meetings and Conventions Best Keynote Speakers: Brian Boyle


Image: Keith Weller

M & C (Meetings and Conventions) polled meeting professionals about how they find keynote speakers for their events, what they spend and many other factors. Among top priorities in the speaker selection process, more than half (54 percent) of respondents cited recommendations of others.

Because planners value the opinions of their peers, they also asked the 114 respondents to name the best keynote speakers they’ve heard in the past two years.

Among the keynote speakers, Brian Boyle was the first name listed in the Motivational category.

Brian’s story has been featured on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, NBC’s Today Show, ESPN, CNN, and several other programs throughout the country that have earned Emmy nominations and awards.

His journey of courage and determination has touched the hearts of millions, and his story and the message it carries has been celebrated around the world.

For more information on Brian’s story and his speaking background, please visit his website at


The Power of the Voice Is Amplified When the Message Is of Gratitude


My path to the medical field began one month after I graduated high school in 2004 when I was an ICU patient. I was coming home from swim practice and was involved in a near fatal car accident with a speeding dump truck. The impact of the crash violently ripped my heart across my chest, shattering my ribs, clavicle, pelvis, collapsing my lungs, damage to practically every major organ, kidney and liver failure, removal of spleen and gallbladder, 60 percent blood loss, severe nerve damage to my left shoulder and in a coma on life support for over two months.

During my time in the hospital, I was very coherent during my comatose state.  I couldn’t talk, move or communicate, but my senses were highly tuned into this environment because that is all I had to obtain information on my surroundings.

With all the sadness that we were facing as a family throughout the hospital phase, there were some good things happening as well, even though they rarely occurred during this stage.  One of those amazing days came when I was able to learn how to talk again — a day my parents and I will never forget.  After several attempts to get me to say a few syllables, one lucky day it just happened out of nowhere.  My respiratory therapist attached a speaking valve, and I tried to sound out a few words and all of a sudden I began talking.  All the nurses and doctors came running in and they all broke out in tears when they saw me. I thanked each and every one of them as soon as I saw them. My parents came running around the corner because they had just arrived for visiting hours, and they were awestruck.  I told my dad that everything was going to be okay, and he couldn’t keep his composure and just burst into tears. As for my mom, I don’t think she stopped crying for the entire two months that I was in there, but at least in that moment, these were tears of joy.

I became a public speaker as a way to say thank you to my healthcare team at Prince George’s Hospital Center and to my Red Cross blood region in Baltimore.  My story and healthcare message spread across the nation following the presentations that I gave at the Maryland Hospital Association and Maryland Healthcare Education Institute. Over the past few years, I have traveled the country and spoken at annual meetings for many state hospital associations under the American Hospital Association, at dozens of healthcare leadership conferences, annual conventions for medical organizations  and given 100+ keynote presentations at various healthcare events (hospital leadership, Doctors, Nurses, EMS providers, frontline staff, nursing home personnel, medical suppliers, physical therapy and nursing school students). During my travels, I have had the opportunity to advise several world-renowned healthcare institutions on projects related to family and patient centered care.

It’s always an emotional experience for me to reflect back on my time in the hospital, especially in front of an audience full of healthcare providers and professionals. I give a piece of my heart and soul every time I tell my story, but it’s so worth it because my whole background is about showing the appreciation to the amazing people like them, for the work that they do, that saves people like me.

Every patient has a story and an experience, and I highly encourage healthcare providers to talk to their patients. As a patient, I was grateful for any interaction at all. Even though I was chemically paralyzed and the people around me were unsure of my level of comprehension, I was very aware of my surroundings.  I could even sense the energy of the people who came into my room, by their tone, body language and movement. I could tell if they were having a good day or a really bad day.  I also liked when my medical team would explain what they were doing, maybe not all the advanced details, but just enough to know what was taking place and that they were taking care of me.

During my time as a patient, the observations that I made truly inspired me and helped me understand how important the role of communication is between the patient and healthcare provider. When I was able to learn how to talk again, I soon discovered that the power of the voice is amplified when the message is of gratitude.

To learn more about Brian’s speaking background, please visit his website.


New website about Brian’s speaking career


I’m proud to announce that the new Iron Heart website is now live, which documents Brian’s story and speaking career. Please visit


Iron Heart 5K: A Race Dedicated to Healthcare Providers

ih_1Brian Boyle became “Iron Heart” after making a full recovery from a tragic car accident. At 18 every major organ in his body was damaged and doctors thought he would not survive, let alone walk again.

“Every day was not guaranteed, every day was a blessing, it was a gift. To go from that experience, where I saw first-hand the power that medicine has, that healthcare providers have for their patients, the compassion, the support the drive; just having that team effort all the way through kept me going,” says Brian Boyle, a.k.a “Iron Heart,” athlete and American Red Cross National Volunteer.

Now Brian has become an Ironman athlete, the American Red Cross National Volunteer, an author, artist and role model. Best of all he says, he runs alongside his father, fiance and his lucky dog.

“To see my dad out there doing it, it was just amazing. That was just the coolest part about it, to see my dad out there pushing the pace, and running alongside Pam the whole way. We just finished strong,” says Boyle.

The Maryland Healthcare Education Institute (MHEI) teamed up with Brian to create this first annual Iron Heart walk and 5K. Brian says he ran every step in gratitude.

“My racing is my way of saying thank you to my healthcare team, not just in PG Hospital, but to anyone in healthcare. It’s my way of saying thank you for choosing this career, thank you for choosing this path in life, and for all you do for patients and their families,” adds Boyle.

The Iron Heart event raised money for MHEI scholarships for healthcare providers.

“We had about 54 people that turned out for the race today, and we’re hoping for more next year. Really our goal was to get out here and have fun, and have everyone with us,” says Jena Large, Iron Heart event organizer.

A race for Brian Boyle the Iron Heart, who doesn’t have a finish line in sight.

Please click here to view the WHAG TV News segment about the Iron Heart 5K.


American Red Cross Annual Report: Brian Boyle

"A blood donation can make the difference between life and death. I am living proof of this." - Brian Boyle, volunteer, blood recipient/donor


July 6, 2004. One moment, 18-year-old Brian Boyle was driving home from swim practice. The next, he was in a hospital bed, unable to speak or move. A natural athlete, Brian was now using all his lessons learned from team sports to survive. “Sometimes you do everything right, and life still doesn’t follow the path you thought you’d be on,” he says.

A dump truck had broadsided his car, and he needed immediate surgery. His heart had been pushed from one side of his chest to the other. He was resuscitated eight times. The only physical hope for his survival was the gift of blood. Sixty percent of Brian’s blood was replaced through transfusions given by volunteer donors.

As he inched his way back to life, Brian wanted to reassure his parents. “I was their only child,” he says. “I wanted to give them a sign I hadn’t stopped fighting. What better way than to smile?” Then, gradually, he squeezed hands, wiggled his fingers, and blinked. “Once I was able to talk, I never wanted to be quiet again,” he laughs.

Two months later, when Brian entered rehab, he knew he wanted to make a difference. “I was alive! I wanted to take my experiences and help others. I started at the very foundation of my recovery—the blood donors, who were there from the get-go.”

He began by giving testimonials and speaking about blood donation, then by sponsoring 5K races for blood donation, still later by hosting blood drives. Now as a volunteer spokesperson for national blood campaigns, he wears the American Red Cross emblem proudly at all his athletic events.

“Blood is needed every day for emergencies like mine, as well as for those with chronic conditions. For nearly 5 million people every year, a blood donation can make the difference between life and death. I am living proof of this.”

Brian’s determination and athletic spirit led to a rapid recovery. He’d make a new goal every day. By December, he was walking and, soon after, started swimming. Several months later, he stepped onto his new college campus and swam his first stroke with his college team.

Now there was no holding Brian back. In 2007, Brian finished his first Ironman triathlon. “I had lost 100pounds and had only weeks to train for it,”he says. “My story of survival made me believe I could attempt these races. When I crossed the finish line, I knew I was fully healed.”

In 2009, Brian made his own first blood donation at the hospital that brought him back to life. Brian graduated from college with honors and is now a public speaker about the patient’s perspective when dealing with health issues. “My work with the Red Cross has made all the pain and suffering worthwhile,” he says. “I am blessed.”

Today, Brian blogs about racing and blood donation at

And to watch the video that accompanies this article, please visit the American Red Cross Annual Report website.


2012 Boston Marathon

Near the start line of the Boston Marathon

As an endurance athlete, running in the Boston marathon is an experience I will always cherish, and as a blood recipient/donor/volunteer it meant so much to be able to run the race for the Red Cross.  Due to the heat, close to 90 degrees, it was repeatedly said that it was one of the most difficult races in the 116 years of the Boston marathon. From my training regime, I was hoping to run a personal best of around 3:20, but I couldn’t believe how much I started to sweat within the first mile so I knew from the beginning it was going to be a rough day.

Near the Newton Hills is where the energy was just completely zapped due to the heat, and it was the downhill section that affected me more than going up because the cramps set it in my legs. After Heartbreak Hill, I focused on just enjoying the race and getting to the finish line safely so I stopped and chatted with the Red Cross volunteers for about 15 minutes near mile 24 and just soaked in the experience of running Boston – it truly was an amazing day.

A few yards away from crossing the finish line

When I sat down after crossing the finish line (4:04) amongst the large crowds of people, a runner standing next to me fainted and I hurried to catch him and shield is head before hitting the ground. After 20 seconds or so, he started to regain consciousness when the medics rushed to him, so it took me by surprise that not only did I run the race for the Red Cross but I had to step in and put my volunteer cap on as well.

It was an honor to run on the Red Cross Team in the Boston Marathon and I’m so proud of all 21 members of the team. We were able to go above our fundraising goal and bring in over $80,000 for the Red Cross.

2012 Boston Marathon finisher's medal

The Boston marathon was a very challenging race, but I enjoyed every second of it. A marathon may be run alone, but in no way is it an individual effort. This race is for my blood donors, the Red Cross and for all the people who have been a part of my journey back to life. This finisher’s medal is a token of my appreciation for the gift you have given me, and I thank you all so much for believing in me and for all the encouragement and support over the years.


Event and Blood Drive at The Ohio State University

President of The Ohio State University, Dr. Gordon Gee, stopped by to show his support at the Iron Heart/Ohio State blood drive


The Ohio State University Newspaper “The Lantern” 

By Caitlyn Wasmundt

“I don’t want to die.” 

That was Brian Boyle’s only thought when he woke from a coma and a priest read him his last rites. 

Boyle shared his experience of going from deathbed to Hawaiian Ironman in three years when he spoke at the Ohio Union Feb. 23 as collaboration between the Ohio Union Activities Board and the American Red Cross. 

In 2004, a car crash almost ended Boyle’s life at age 18, when a dump truck smashed into Boyle’s car. Not only did Boyle suffer broken bones and internal bleeding, but his heart shifted to the other side of his chest from the impact. Boyle said paramedics and doctors revived him eight times in two months to keep him alive. 

Boyle gave the audience a first-person account of what he experienced after waking up in the hospital and having no idea where he was or why he was there. 

“I awake to regular beeping sounds,” Boyle said. “I’m alone in a white room and looking straight up at the ceiling … I try to raise my arms, then legs, but I can’t move them. My head won’t budge either.” 

Moments after waking up, a dark shadowy figure walked into Boyle’s room. He said he feared it was death, but then realized it was a priest who began reading his last rites. 

As he read his story to the audience, Boyle had to stop for a moment. 

“I’m sorry, flashbacks,” he said. 

Katie Sattler, a fourth-year in nursing, said Boyle’s story touched her on a personal and professional level. 

“It was very inspirational, it gives me a different standpoint in nursing,” Sattler said. 

Two months after regaining consciousness, doctors moved Boyle to a therapy facility, Boyle told his audience. 

During his time in the Intensive Care Unit and rehab, Boyle said he lost hope and didn’t see a reason to live. But through faith and his parents’ love, he said he realized he needed to fight. 

Boyle wrote a book about his journey called “Iron Heart: The True Story of How I Came Back From the Dead.” 

Three years after the accident, Boyle said he decided to compete in the Hawaii Ironman, an endurance triathlon consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run. 

Boyle said his decision to compete was his way of telling those around him that he was finally OK. 

“Ironman sealed the deal on my recovery,” Boyle said. 

He finished the competition in 14 hours and 42 minutes, just three years after being told he might never walk again. 

“It was the breath of life all over again,” Boyle said about crossing the finish line. 

Doire Perot, a third-year in operations management and president of American Red Cross Club at OSU, said hearing Boyle’s story was an incredible opportunity for OSU students. 

“You can take a lot away from Brian’s story, even if you aren’t an athlete,” Perot said. 

After telling his audience his firsthand experience, he opened it up to a Q-and-A session. 

With the students from the Ohio Union Activities Board

Audience members asked him a wide range of questions, from his training regimen for his first Ironman to how he feels about driving after the accident. 

Since his first Ironman competition, Boyle has competed in about 30 other endurance competitions, he said. 

Boyle said he doesn’t remember the accident, but is still cautious when he’s on the road. 

“I don’t remember the accident, but the scars are there,” Boyle said of his lost memory. 

To read more, please visit the newspaper’s website.


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