718. How a World Champion Athlete Turned Tragedy into Triumph
“….for Christmas 2003, that was the first Christmas after my accident and my mom fought tooth and nail to have me go on a home visit and thank goodness she did because that was when I really found out that this was real because I saw the house I grew up in, my dog, a bunch of get well cards….so that’s when it really hit me when I knew I had to make a choice to put everything I can into this to try to get that life I had before….back.”
Ryan Boyle is a silver medal winner of the U.S. Paralympics Cycling Team and the author of the book, “When the Lights Go Out: A Boy Given a Second Chance.” After suffering a traumatic brain injury as a child, and given almost no hope of recovery by his doctors, Ryan woke up after two months in a coma and began his hard battle to recovery. His goal is to become a public speaker one day, in order to help people overcome life’s obstacles.
How Did You Start Using Your Talents?
“While participating on the swim team of the Shepherd Spinal Center, in Atlanta, I was awarded a hand cycle for being the most motivated patient. I took to cycling and began training exclusively on that. The sense of freedom, of being in control of your own destiny, the wind whipping through your hair—it was a blast! After one race I was approached by a coach who specialized in paracycling, and he said he would be more than happy to train me.”
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
“After the accident I had been in a coma for two months and in intensive rehabilitation for seven months. My mother fought tooth and nail to get me home for Christmas, and thank goodness she did because that was when I finally realized that what had happened to me was real. I saw the house I grew up in, my dear dog, a slew of get well cards and so much more. It was then I had to make a choice to put everything I had into my recovery and try to get that life I had before…back.”
The Most Powerful Lesson Learned?
“Traumatic brain injury is one of the leading causes of disability among children, yet because of the complexity of the brain, experts still have much to learn about how to treat TBI. In my book, ‘When the Lights Go Out,’ I describe my therapies—what has worked, what hasn’t, and why—and share how I learned to cope with the emotional and psychological challenges. In the process, I have discovered the critical roles that faith in God, love of family, the healing power of friends, and the inherent goodness of people all played in my ability to triumph over overwhelming odds. I have also learned that a horrific accident has given me an amazing gift.”
Steps to Success from Ryan Boyle
“I’ve been blessed to turn tragedy into triumph. While it has not been easy, there are a few principles that have guided me:”
1. Have faith in God.
2. Love your family and dear friends.
3. Believe in the inherent goodness of people.
4. Put trust in, and continuously learn from, gifted mentors.
Connecting With Ryan Boyle
Book: When the Lights Go Out: A Boy Given a Second Chance, by Ryan Boyle
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