New children’s book now available: Swim Bark Run

SWIM BARK RUN_ART (2)Daisy the Bulldog has gone to every one of her owner’s triathlons. She’s proud of his athletic accomplishments, and is always there to greet him at the finish line.

Daisy wonders if she could train and compete for an event like that. So she gets her doggy friends, Rascal the Dachshund, Atticus the Corgi, and Hobie the Dalmation to make their own dog-athalon.

They plot a course through the park and train daily: swimming across the pond, skateboarding down the sidewalks, running up and down the hill.

Finally, it’s the big day, and the poochy pals couldn’t be more excited. The course is tough, but they help one another along the way, cheering to keep going, challenging to do their very best.

On the final hill, Daisy’s tired and not sure she can make it to the finish line―until she spots a familiar (human) face, rooting for her along the way. “Go, Daisy, go! Swim, bark, run. Go, Daisy, go! Just have fun!”

A charming celebration of setting goals and staying active, SWIM BARK RUN demonstrates that with determination and teamwork, everyone’s a winner.

If you would like an autographed copy, they can be ordered through this website.

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.

“On Guard” – A Newsletter About Patient Safety for Johns Hopkins Medicine: The Brian Boyle Story

Brian Boyle
Patient advocate and American Red Cross spokesperson

For the voiceless, a Mouthpiece

Fall 2012 – Patient Voices

One summer day in 2004, Brian Boyle was driving home from swim practice when a dump truck slammed into his car, thrusting the 18-year-old athlete into a two-month battle for his life at Prince George’s Hospital Center in Cheverly, Md. During that time, Boyle, who lost 60 percent of his blood and was revived eight times on the operating table, could see, hear and feel pain, but was unable to talk or move. 

Today, Boyle, who spoke at the third annual Johns Hopkins Medicine Patient Safety Summit in June, has made a full recovery and is nationally known as a patient advocate and spokesperson for the American Red Cross. Boyle credits caregivers for his many accomplishments, including the more than two dozen marathons and endurance events he’s participated in since his recovery. To help Hopkins health care providers understand the needs of patients who can’t speak for themselves, Boyle describes his experience during the eight weeks he spent in a chemically induced coma in the ICU and how his care team inspired him to keep fighting. 

Ceiling tiles. That’s the first thing I saw when I woke up alone in a white, brightly lit room. I didn’t know my name, where I was or how I had gotten there. I couldn’t move my arms or legs. I couldn’t even blink “Is this a dream?” I asked myself.

A priest recited the Last Rites by my bedside. The room became hazy before the blackness swallowed me whole. Hours, or maybe days later, I woke up again. My eyes burned as though they’d been open for days. I wanted to close them so badly, but I couldn’t. My left arm felt like it was on fire, and the pain was excruciating. I felt like screaming. But no one came to my rescue because I couldn’t speak, so I suffered in isolation and maddening silence.

Slowly, I remembered my name, the first of many clues I silently strung together in the days and weeks that followed as I tried to piece together the broken puzzle my life had become.

While I couldn’t talk or move, my other senses seemed superhuman. I heard everything, from the steady stream of beeps coming from the army of machines around my bedside to hushed conversations in the hallway. Words like “nursing home” and “vegetative state” amplified in my mind, crowding out any hope of ever escaping from my mental prison. 

Among my heightened senses: an innate ability to detect mood. Whenever a nurse or doctor entered my room, I always could tell if they were happy or hurried, frustrated or calm. I always hoped my clinicians’ spirits were high; I needed every ounce of their attention to survive.

My time in ICU Room 19 passed slowly, marked by the smallest signs of progress: first blinking, wiggling my toes and then speaking my first word (months later, I added taking my first step to the list). None of these huge personal milestones would have been possible without my family and the many nurses, doctors, therapists, techs and countless others who fought tirelessly for me. Completely reliant on others in my vulnerable state, my health care team met my many needs, big and small, around the clock.

Most of all, however, they gave me hope. Even though I couldn’t talk, they spoke to me — something I craved in my isolated state. Whether to explain that day’s tests, to talk about the Olympics in Athens, which they frequently let me watch, or to tell me about their lives, they treated me like a family member instead of a body in a bed. Actions as simple as playing my favorite CDs or asking my family to bring in fans to cool my feverish body meant so much to me. The impact of even a smile cannot be overstated.

The Washington Post – Blood Donations: A Matter of Life and Death


After a blood transfusion saved his life, Ironman triathlete Brian Boyle advocates for the vital need for volunteer blood donors

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 heneeded 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.

Making a difference. 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 getgo.”

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. In 2007, Brian finished his first Ironman triathlon. “I had lost 100 pounds 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.” Brian’s story emphasizes just how important each and every blood donation can be. Accident victims, as well as patients with cancer, sickle cell disease, blood disorders and other illnesses receive lifesaving transfusions every day. There is no substitute for blood, and volunteer donors are the only source.

Giving back. 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.”

My visit with the students at St. Mary’s Ryken High School


The County Times Newspaper

By Carrie Munn

St. Mary’s College of Maryland alum and Southern Maryland local legend Brian Boyle visited English students at St. Mary’s Ryken last Friday to talk about his inspirational, nonfiction book, “Iron Heart.” 

The work was assigned reading for several Ryken juniors and Boyle addressed their inquiries about his true-life account of overcoming injuries sustained in a 2004 severe automobile accident and going on to complete the grueling Ironman competition. 

Athlete and author Brian Boyle answers a variety of student questions during his visit to St. Mary’s Ryken.

At 18, Boyle, of Welcome, in Charles County, was an honor student and all-star athlete at McDonough High School when his life was placed in peril after his Camaro was struck by a dump truck. In 2007, Boyle, who technically died multiple times during surgeries and was told he may never walk again, made headlines when he crossed the finish line after the intense 2.4-swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile full marathon in Kona, Hawaii. 

From coma to Kona, “Iron Heart” is his personal and inspirational tale and one that Ryken English teacher Misty Frantz said her students connect with. 

“Every day I inspire my students to accomplish their goals and make the world a better place,” Frantz said, adding the choices she makes in literature have to support the ‘quitting is not a option’ philosophy she lives and teaches by. “Brian’s story fits right in with that philosophy,” she told The County Times. 

She explained “Iron Heart” is an inspirational yet relatable tale for her students and that the experience of meeting Boyle makes the book come to life for them. 

Students asked Boyle questions ranging from the serious; “Did you ever want to just give up?” and “Did you ever question your faith?” to the superficial; “Do you have a girlfriend?” and “How much can you bench?” 

Boyle answered them all candidly and with a sense of humor. As one session wrapped up, he told the high schoolers, “I’m nothing different, I just have a crazy story to share.” 

Boyle said the book was borne from his personal journaling during the lengthy recovery process, explaining it took time to determine which memories were a reality and which were not. Boyle said he was determined to get out of the hospital bed he’d spent weeks in, not just for his sake, but for his parents’. “I just had to pull through for them,” he said. 

He said as crazy as it sounds, it took something as intense as finishing the Ironman for him to feel his recovery was complete. “Every week, every day was and is a gift,” Boyle said, adding that in the years since his miraculous recovery he has sought out the medical workers who saved his life and thanked them, has become an American Red Cross advocate and public speaker, as well as pushing the athletic envelope for himself. He continues to train extensively and competes in many endurance events with sponsorships. 

Boyle said he is working on getting back to Kona, to disprove the naysayers who claimed he only got the chance to compete because of the media attention and his amazing story. He said in the future two goals are to qualify straight-up for the Ironman and The Boston Marathon. 

The athlete shared that his outlook on life is forever changed, saying he wakes up happy to be able to move his toes each morning and has an enhanced level of determination and appreciation in life. 

When a student asked the author, “Would you go back and change it if you could?”, Boyle responded that as tough as it was, he wouldn’t take it back for the platform his experience has given him to help others. 

He said his thoughts went from ‘Why did He let this happen to me?’ to ‘Why has He saved me?’ From there, his spirit of determination carried him through a remarkable recovery and he now serves as inspiration for other athletes and trauma patients facing a seemingly insurmountable return to normalcy. 

As for his book, “Iron Heart” is written in a simplistic, first-hand narrative and Boyle said his hope in publishing the work is that it ends up in the hands of someone in a similar situation and gives them the hope to push through it. 

“My students continually tell me that this is the one book they enjoyed reading,” Frantz said, adding that Brian is real and by him taking the time to come meet with the students, “…my students see you can accomplish anything you put your mind to.” 

Many excited students requested photos with the athlete and author following their open dialogue about the reading. 

Boyle’s book is available through and all major retailers. More information can be found by visiting