- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Nine years ago, when he was fresh out of high school, Brian Boyle’s life changed in an instant.
Mere months after graduating from Maurice J. McDonough High School in Pomfret, Boyle was driving home from an athletic practice when he was involved in a car accident that totaled his vehicle and left him nearly dead. In the face of overwhelming adversity, Boyle managed to come back and beat the odds, and three years after his accident, he achieved his dream of competing in a triathlon. Since then, Boyle has had no intention of slowing down.
On Thursday, Boyle returned to his alma mater for the first time since graduation to speak to a group of seniors and with literacy classes at the high school.
“It’s bittersweet being back here,” Boyle said. “My days here were amazing. My whole foundation for my background came from here.”
Since the accident, aside from running in 11 marathons and competing in other athletic events, Boyle wrote a book about his ordeal, called “Iron Heart: The True Story of How I Came Back From the Dead.” In the literacy classes at the school, teacher Cynthia Brown, who helped organize the event, said that upon reading the book for herself, she knew she wanted Boyle to come to the school.
“We had the kids read this book at the beginning of the year. I knew then that we had to get something with him,” Brown said. “The book really influenced us. It was good for them.”
In his presentation, Boyle spoke at length about the injuries he sustained, including massive damage to almost all of his internal organs and having his heart moved clear across his chest.
“Even now, it isn’t quite where it’s supposed to be, but it’s beating and that’s all that matters to me,” Boyle said, drawing applause from the crowd.
For a time after the accident, Boyle was alert and aware of his surroundings, but he could not communicate with anyone.
“In a coma, it’s like a sense that time doesn’t exist. There were constant hallucinations and nightmares,” Boyle said. “I only remember bits and pieces, but it was a lot to deal with.”
Boyle urged the students to only make plans for the short term, given how anything can happen at any time.
“Focus not on the long term but what you’ve got right now right in front of you,” Boyle said. “Build on that.”
Brown said Boyle’s presentation really hit home for the students.
“The kids were just very emotional,” Brown said. “They really wanted him back.”
Brown, who also heads Revive, the school’s Bible club, said she hopes to have Boyle back to speak to the club by the end of the year and would like to bring him back for further speaking engagements.
“I don’t know why it took us so long to get him here, but I’m glad we did,” Brown said.
McDonough senior Lucas Salada was impressed with Boyle’s speech.
“He was really motivational. It was crazy to hear about everything that he went through,” Salada said. “It was much more than I expected. I didn’t know he went through that much. He’s very inspirational.”
Salada added that he hasn’t read Boyle’s book but plans to.