Waite High social studies teacher Joe Boyle first came to the attention of the Sunday Today show producers when he was training to run a 50-mile race in Mohican State Park.
His plan was to raise money for Dr. Brian Rini at the Cleveland Clinic so the doctor could continue his immunotherapy clinical trial. It's a trial that Joe knows only too well - he has been traveling to the Clinic every other Thursday for more than a year after a diagnosis of terminal cancer. Joe has developed such a relationship with Dr. Rini that the two ran a marathon together in Bowling Green last year.
"We shared [Joe's race plan] with a few media, including the Today Show. They were interested, but then we learned Joe was injured so he wouldn’t be running. Because his story is so inspiring anyway, they decided it was a fit for their Father’s Day plans," said Katrina Healy, a spokesman for the Clinic.
Joe, his wife, Katie, and their three children spent a whirlwind two days in New York City and were featured live on the Today show on Sunday, June 21. Although the family was excited enough about just appearing on television, they were given two more surprises on air: Superhero Captain America, who the family has adopted as their cancer-fighting symbol, appeared to invite them to the Atlanta set of his new movie. And the Cleveland Indians sent a basket of goodies and an invitation for Joe to throw out the first pitch at an upcoming game. The Boyles' appearance on the Today show can be seen here: http://on.today.com/1K6HbUL
"One thing that has become so obvious to Katie and I since I was diagnosed with cancer is that things don't matter nearly as much as experiences matter," Joe said before leaving on the trip. "Building memories with your kids is the sort of gift that matters more than anything else. Being able to share a trip to New York, and build memories of a lifetime for our kids, has me more excited than anything else."
He added, "I hope when they're old and gray, they'll be telling stories about 'that one time we went to New York with Mom and Dad!'"
That enthusiasm has served Joe well in his career at Toledo Public Schools and in his battle with cancer. A popular social studies teacher, Joe is often chosen to attend the annual Celebration of Excellence dinner for the district's valedictorians and salutatorians and his annual Fallen Heroes project - where students tell the stories of area men killed during World War II - often draws media coverage.
Joe, now 40, was first diagnosed in the spring of 2011 when he felt discomfort after running a half marathon. He underwent surgery to remove a large tumor and a kidney and he appeared to be in the clear for about a year. But after accompanying Samantha Fletcher, the 2014 Rogers High valedictorian, to Normandy as part of an Albert H. Small Normandy Institute research project, a trip to the doctor revealed spots on his lungs
“I’m lucky that I know that I’m dying,” Mr. Boyle told a Blade reporter. “Every day counts, and I know I have to fit as much in it as I can.”
As if the Today show trip wasn't excitement enough, the Boyles learned on the eve of their trip that an anonymous donor had bought them a 2015 Toyota Corolla - so Joe now has reliable transportation for his trips to the Cleveland Clinic. The Blade story on that donation is here: http://bit.ly/1Lfn71Q
Posted on June 22, 2015