Accident victim inspires others
Nine years ago, Ryan Boyle was hit and dragged by a pickup truck in Monroe while riding on a Big Wheel toy at a friend's birthday party.
He was severely injured, and first responders to the accident scene were ready to pronounce him dead.
However, after undergoing major operations — including the removal of a part of his cerebellum — and years spent in physical rehabilitation and re-learning rudimentary life skills, the 2012 St. Joseph High graduate is now a freshman in college.
He also is a newly published author.
His family moved to Georgia in 2011 to seek out better therapeutic options, but Boyle will return to Connecticut this Saturday, Jan. 5, for a book signing at Linda's Story Time in Monroe.
From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the bookstore on Monroe Turnpike, Boyle will sign hardcover and paperback copies of his memoir, When the Lights Go Out: A Boy Given a Second Chance.
Advance registration is not required. However, bookstore owner Linda Devlin recommends calling to reserve a copy of the book. The hardcover costs $22.95 and the paperback is $11.95.
"I'm so excited and honored to have Ryan come to my store," Devlin said. "I remember his mother bringing him in here all of the time to buy books for their home and her classroom."
Boyle's mother, Nancy, taught fourth grade at Monroe Elementary School before the family moved out of state.
Though a Monroe native, Boyle was an honors student at St. Joseph's. He said he is looking forward to greeting old friends and neighbors.
"Linda said this was more exciting for her than Christmas," he said with a laugh.
Along with the Monroe book signing, Boyle will also speak to students at St. Joseph's on Friday. "My story is really unique," Boyle said. "What happened to me is quite miraculous."
His family agreed.
"We are incredibly proud of Ryan," said his father, Matthew. "Even as his parents, he continues to amaze us. To have written a book and to be launching it at 19 is truly remarkable."
Matthew Boyle said he and his wife are impressed with their son's commitment to inspiring others.
"Ryan's incredibly positive attitude and sense of humor through a horrible situation has helped us get through many difficult times," he said.
"Countless number of people who have met Ryan," Matthew said, "have told us how he has inspired them in many different ways, and we are already receiving this same feedback from folks that have read his book, and have yet to have the pleasure of meeting him.
"I believe that his book will touch hearts, minds and souls — and change lives," he said. "Ryan is truly making the most of this second chance [at life] that he has been blessed with."
Work and prayer
A young man with a strong faith, Ryan Boyle attributes much of his recovery to years of hard work coupled with a great deal of prayer.
Immediately after the accident occurred, St. Jude Church in Monroe was filled with the Boyle family's family members, friends and colleagues. People of all denominations came together to pray for the 10-year-old in the intensive care unit.
"From the very beginning, I had sisters from Mother Teresa's order praying for me," Boyle said. "We had countless people praying. That was really a blessing."
A few years later, though, Boyle admits to feeling "furious" about the debilitating accident. "I didn't know why God would do this to me," he said.
It was during a "life changing" pilgrimage to Medjugorje, a European town visited by Catholics on religious pilgrimages, that Boyle first recognized the need "to inspire people and give hope."
"People really need this," he said.
Boyle wrote the book during the summer before his freshman year of high school. He then sent about 25 letters to prospective literary agents. However, no one seemed interested in publishing his story.
In the end, he and his family decided to self-publish. "My family has been incredibly supportive," Boyle said.
Boyle is currently a freshman at Berry College in Georgia. He is studying communications and his goal is to become a motivational speaker.
He also plans on writing at least one more autobiographical book. "This is just the first phase and is meant to let people know how I'm doing," Boyle said. "However, I don't think the story should end there."
Upcoming book signings are scheduled for Berry College, which is in a rural area near Atlanta, and for the Barnes & Noble at Emory University in Georgia.