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Lee Capristo
Director of Publications
Anne Arundel 100

Giving Back after Getting Back

Brian Boyle 

From victim to athlete, Brian Boyle ’09 updates us on his inspiring story. (Photo courtesy of Brian Boyle)

In the River Gazette, exactly a year ago, we profiled Brian Boyle, then a St. Mary’s College junior who had beaten the odds by finishing one of the most grueling physical tests an individual can face, the Hawaii Ironman – and did it while continuing to recover from a near fatal car accident three years before.

A dump truck had crashed into the side of his 1994 Chevy Camaro, knocking his heart across his chest, collapsing both his lungs, and shattering his pelvis, numerous ribs, and clavicle. After waking from a two-month coma, Brian underwent 14 operations; medical tests indicated he would never be able to function normally again

He spent the next year, when he should have begun his first year of college, recovering and rebuilding his body. He joined St. Mary’s a year later as an art major, and continued his therapy. Then, last summer, he was invited to participate in the Ironman as the event’s inspirational athlete. Since then, his life as an athlete and an inspiration has exploded. Some highlights:

- He competed in two half-ironman races this summer and dropped more than two hours off his time. In the Ironman 70.3 World Championship (half the distance of the Hawaii Ironman) in Clearwater, Florida, Nov. 8, he dropped another 19 minutes off his personal best.

- He is featured in November’s Washingtonian magazine, and in the Giving Back after Getting Backwinter edition of Southern Maryland: This is Living.

- For its 20th-year anniversary edition, Men’s Health magazine showcases the top 20 health and fitness stories from the past 20 years, including Lance Armstrong’s and Brian’s.

- He was awarded the 2008 Fitness Inspiration award at the International Health and Fitness awards, which he says “is like the Academy Award for that scene.”

- ESPN has been on campus to do a segment on him; FOX 5 and FOX 45 aired pieces on him.

- And a favorite! PowerBar named him its Athlete of the Month.

Brian, who plans to graduate with the Class of 2009, awakes at 4 a.m., rides his stationary bike for about an hour, then gets ready for class. He trains 20-40 hours a week. As an art major, he is thinking of focusing his St. Mary’s Project on pieces he started making as a form of therapy when he got home from the hospital. “It is based on the entire experience of  being comatose and coming back to life,” he says.

Besides juggling training and classes, Brian has become a testimonial speaker for the American Red Cross and Prince George’s Hospital Center. “I made a promise to myself that if I made a full recovery, I would offer as much help and support to those who need it,” he says.

– Barbara Geehan