Athlete turns his comeback into a teachable experience


In 2004 — when he was just 18 — Brian Boyle suffered a horrific traffic accident that many believed would end his career in Ironman triathlons.

Instead, in the midst of a near-miraculous comeback, he visited Centre Island beach on Monday, in the final stages of his training for the Ironman U.S. Championship, a 140.6 mile race in New York on Saturday, August 11 as a member of Team Red Cross.

A national Red Cross spokesperson, Brian is competing in the triathlon to express his appreciation to American Red Cross blood donors for helping to save his life through their donations.

As part of Brian’s preparation for the race, he ran and swam with members of Long Island’s Boys and Girls Clubs of America, including children from Grenville Baker Boys and Girls Club in Locust Valley.

Eight years ago, Brian had just graduated high school in Welcome, Maryland and was a champion on his school’s swim team with a bright future ahead, until his car was hit by a dump truck and he suffered near-fatal injuries.

Brian’s heart actually moved across his chest in the crash.

He was in a medically induced coma and given little chance of survival.

During a series of operations, he received 36 blood transfusions and 13 plasma treatments.

Thanks to Brian’s determination and physical conditioning, he gradually progressed from a coma to a wheelchair, eventually competing in the Iron Man Triathlon in Hawaii and most recently the Boston Marathon, improving his finishing time with each successive competition.

Brian spoke to the children and answered their questions about his near fatal crash, how he overcame the odds and how he has chosen to give back with Team Red Cross.

Some found his scar fascinating, asking if it hurt and whether it would ever go away.

“It might,” Brian replied.

The young athlete said that when he was first told by doctors he might not walk again or swim, his gut reaction was, “You don’t know me. You’ve done some tests, but you don’t know me.”

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