Climbing out of the wreckage: The Transformation of Brian Boyle

By: Steffen “Cookie” Cook

What was a regular summer day in 2004 all changed in a matter of seconds for Brian Boyle.

He has no memory of this happening.

He only knows this after piecing together what happened from eye witness accounts and reports.

Brian was coming home from swim practice, where he was preparing to be one his college swim team. He was driving across an intersection when a speeding dump truck T-boned his car on the driver’s side. The crash ripped his heart across his chest, shattered his ribs, clavicle, and pelvis, collapsed his lungs and damaging every major organ.

“I had failure of my kidneys and liver, removal of spleen and gallbladder, 60% blood loss, severe nerve damage to my left shoulder, and [I was] in a coma…on life support for over two months at Prince Georges Hospital Center in Cheverly, Maryland.”

During those two comatose months, Brian underwent 14 operations and received a staggering 36 blood transfusions and 13 plasma treatments. Slowly, he began to regain consciousness. His eyes were open, but he found was completely paralyzed.

“I wasn’t sure if I would ever leave Room 19 of the ICU,” he explains. “A few weeks later, progress was slowly taking place, from regaining the strength to smile, blink, move my fingers, wiggle [my] toes, chew, swallow, and then to the point where I was taught how to talk again.”

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The first thing Brian said to his parents was reassurance: everything was going to be OK.

Throughout the entire ordeal, he still remembers the tears in his parents’ eyes in that moment, but this was the first time those tears were tears of joy.

A miraculous journey of rehabilitation followed, and Brian stunned everyone by returning to near-full fitness. But he wasn’t satisfied with simply being able to walk and talk and eat again. Brian was consumed by a drive and a dream to compete in an Ironman triathlon. He was determined to make it happen.

“One year after leaving the ICU, I began my freshman year at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. It was during the end of my sophomore year in college where I reflected on the journey I had been on over the past few years. I accomplished the two goals that I had set for myself when I graduated high school.”

Later that year, Brian competed in an Ironman on October 13th, 2007—his recovery was finally complete.

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“When I crossed the finish line of the Hawaii Ironman in 2007, I felt like I was given the breath of life all over again,” he explains. “Whether it was swimming, biking, running, or a combination of all three, I wanted to participate in these events. It means the world to me that with my background I get to even make it to the starting line of these races.”

To Brian, life is an adventure, and when he participates in these events, he represents the people who have supported him along his journey “back to life,” as he describes it, and he wears the Red Cross on his race suit to support the 36 blood donors that made his recovery possible.

“These races may be pursued individually, but in no way are they ever an individual effort,” he points out.

As someone who has always looked for that next challenge, Brian was thirsty for more. His body craved challenges, and these cravings eventually found Spartan Race.

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“I look at the Spartan Race as a metaphor for life because you don’t know what to expect on race day, how your body will respond, or what the course will be like,” he explains. “You train and prepare, but you don’t truly know what is going to be around the next corner, just like in life, all you can do is react and overcome.

My goal for 2016 is to participate in my first Spartan Race,” he continues. “which will be the Sprint distance in Washington DC this summer.” Every time Brian has run a triathlon or marathon (at least three dozen), he has dedicated the event to someone. Brian intends to dedicate this race to his late grandfather, Joe Lineberger, who has always personified “determination” in his eyes. (Joe was a Vietnam Veteran and bronze star recipient and served the country for a total of 64 years.)

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“Depending on how that [race] goes, I’d also like to pursue the Super in Virginia and hopefully qualify for the World Championship. Ultimately, I am hoping for the Trifecta.”

If you think Brian can make it, show your support by sharing this post. Or, maybe you’ll meet him in Washington, DC.