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The White House honored nine American Red Cross employees and volunteers on Sept. 14 as Champions of Change and 2004 McDonough High School graduate Brian Boyle was among the panel.

The White House weekly honors Americans who are making an impact in their communities, whether it’s assisting after a disaster or working with AmeriCorps, building a resilient community here or abroad is key.

According to its website, AmeriCorps offers 75,000 opportunities for adults of all ages and backgrounds to serve through a network of partnerships with local and national nonprofit groups each year.

The personal resilience of Boyle after his near-fatal car accident in 2004 was recognized by his peers.

“The event at the White House was incredible and an experience that I'll always cherish,” Boyle said. “As a Red Cross volunteer, it meant so much to be recognized for my volunteer work, but it meant even more to represent the blood recipients and blood donors.”

Boyle is a Red Cross volunteer, donor and spokesperson.

On his way home from swimming practice on July 6, 2004, Boyle was ran off the road by a dump truck. He lost 60 percent of his blood, needed 36 blood transfusions and ended up on life support. His heart was pushed across his chest. He had crushed pelvis, shattered ribs, broken clavicle, collapsed lungs, every major organ was damaged. He had 14 life-saving operations and spent two months in a medically induced coma.

The 2010 graduate of St. Mary’s College of Maryland wondered why all of this was happening.

“I kept hope, but I wondered why,” Boyle said. “I was a good kid, I got good grades. I was into sports, went to church and volunteered in the community and here I am now on my death bed.”

Boyle said his answer turned into a question.

“Why am I still here? Why was I saved?,” Boyle said.

Boyle said he knew his stories are adverse, but he knew he had to use them to help others who had been through similar adverse situations.

After speaking to his medical team, Boyle learned that some donations came from Minnesota. It was occurring to him that the Red Cross had been such an influential organization to his life that he wanted to give back.

“That made such an impact on my life,” Boyle said. “All the process made was because of my blood donors. I was so moved and I was so honored that I had to show my gratitude.”

For the past five years, Boyle has traveled across the nation speaking at Red Cross events, hosting blood drives and acting as a national spokesperson to illustrate the crucial need for blood. He also participates in marathons and triathlons on behalf of the Red Cross.

This year, Boyle completed the Boston Marathon and New York City Ironman. On Oct. 13, he will compete in the Hartford Marathon and turn around two weeks later to run in the Marine Corps Marathon, which begins in Virginia and includes Washington, D.C.

“I had to learned how to blink, move my fingers, talk, eat, sit upright, stand, walk, and then swim, bike, and run,” Boyle said. “Three years after leaving the Intensive Care Unit, I completed the healing process when I crossed the finish line in the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii, the greatest day of my life.”

Boyle said that the Red Cross is always there in the deepest and darkest moments of unimaginable human suffering and he is only one of many who have been impacted by blood donations.

“I plan to continue competing in endurance races on behalf of the Red Cross for as long as I can,” Boyle said. “When I run every step is an achievement, and every breath is a gift. During a race, when I feel my heart racing and my blood pumping, these were once signs that I was dying, now these are signs that I am living.”

tshowalter@somdnews.com