I’ve begun a new collaboration with co-authors Karina Yesayeva and Michael Gross. This book will humanize the suffering that a sizable portion of Armenian people endured during the 1988 and 1990 pogroms, when groups of ethnic Azeris brutally slaughtered and expelled the Armenian population residing in and around Baku, the current capital of the Republic of Azerbaijan and former Soviet Republic. Karina and her family suffered great personal hardships while living in this area at the time before fleeing to the U.S. and settling in Rhode Island. The book will also examine the history of American genocide, which began in the early part of the 20th century.
A new book collaboration is being outlined and tentatively titled:
The Luckiest Girl In The World – My Story of Struggle and Hope in Overcoming Pediatric Stroke
by Jamie Coyle with Paul Lonardo
When Jamie Coyle was growing up, everyone would always say how lucky she was, though she was just doing what she always loved; skating and playing ice hockey. Everything seemed to go her way, from winning virtually every raffle she entered to scoring the game-winning goal whenever her team needed it. As she got a little older, she could sense these things before they happened, like knowing she was going to win the bicycle raffle or catching the corner of the net to get the puck past the goalie as time expired, and she felt blessed somehow. Becoming an Olympian was something she talked about as far back as she could remember. By the time she was twelve, Jamie’s family, her coaches and the local hockey world that she dominanted, believed it as well.
August 9, 2008 started out the way so many weekends did for Jamie; in a hockey rink. During a regional tournament in Marlboro, MA, Jamie’s team was already up 1-0 when she scored the second goal of the game shortly before the end of the period. Jamie came off the ice to take a short breather, but while she was on the bench she felt a sudden and excruciating pain in the middle of her forehead. It was not something she had ever experienced before. When her coaches began calling her to get back out on the ice for the start of the next shift change, she could not respond. She attempted to take a step but fell to the ground, conscious yet unable to talk or communicate in any way. One of her coaches, who was also an EMT, recognized the signs of stroke. Jamie was rushed by rescue to nearby UMASS Medical Center in Worchester, MA.
After many hours of testing, doctors determined that Jamie had, indeed, suffered a stroke, but they could not attribute a cause. Jamie was paralyzed on her right side and could make only inaudible sounds.
Within a week, Jamie had regained partial mobility on her right side and full facial expressions, allowing her beautiful smile to once again brighten her face, and by consequence the faces of everyone around her. When Jamie was moved back into intensive care, the Coyles were assured that it was a common occurrence for an injured brain to get worse before it gets better. Jamie was restricted to bed for three weeks, delaying the start of any physical therapy because her doctors did not want to raise her blood pressure and risk exacerbating her condition. High doses of steroids were used to reduce the swelling of her brain.
A month after her stroke, Jamie was transferred to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston to begin physical, occupational and speech therapies. The regimen was a challenge for her, both physically and emotionally. She just wanted to go home so she worked hard to get there.
Three weeks later, Jamie was cleared to leave Spaulding and continue her physical therapy as an outpatient from home. By her thirteenth birthday in December, Jamie was walking without a cane, though she had to wear a leg brace. Her stroke had also caused cognitive damages, and Jamie thought she would never be a normal teenager. It was a difficult winter for Jamie and her family, but she continued to work hard. Her goal to get back on the ice kept her going.
Besides her physical and speech therapists, Jamie had tutors to help her keep up with her school curriculum. Her stroke made it difficult for her to grasp new concepts, and it was not easy for her to recall things that she already knew, so she had to work twice as hard just to catch up.
On June 19, 2009, Jamie’s hard work paid off when she walked on her own across the stage at Joseph L. McCourt Middle School and received her diploma. It was a proud moment for Jamie and her family, and it was the first of many milestones.
In February 2010, Jamie began to transition into Cumberland High School. During this time, she began putting more and more time on ice skates and practicing her hockey skills. She was readying herself to make her comeback and play for a hockey team in an actual game. This happened on October 3, 2010, when Jamie played in her first competitive game in more than two years, skating five shifts, her smile never leaving her face.
Even as Jamie continued to progress physically and cognitively, she began to accept her condition on an emotional level, and soon took her first steps in taking on the responsibility of advocacy. She was able to look past her own problems to raise awareness about stroke and to help other children and their families overcome pediatric stroke.
With David Dansereau, her physical therapist, Jamie began visiting local schools to educate children and teachers about new therapies and devices being used in treating people who have suffered brain injuries and stroke. In May 2011, David Dansereau nominated Jamie to be the new face of pediatric stroke. David, ever the advocate for stroke awareness, developed a plan to team up with Jamie and Tedy Bruschi, former New Patriot Patriots linebacker and stroke survivor, to produce a public service announcement.
Early on, Jamie had felt embarrassed that she had a stroke, and as far as she had come in the four years since her injury, the challenges remain, as does the stigma and a general lack of understanding of pediatric stroke by the public. This is precisely what Jamie strives to address in this book and in her life.
A new book collaboration is being outlined and tentatively titled:
WITH PREJUDICE – The Scott Hornoff Story
In 1989, Scott Hornoff was a young Warwick, RI police detective and married father of a young son when he ended a brief relationship with a Vicky Cushman, who shortly after their “break up” was found bludgeoned to death in her home. An undelivered love note to Scott was found at the scene. When initially questioned by his superiors, Scott denied having a relationship with the murdered woman, though he quickly admitted to the adulterous affair in subsequent interviews.
After three years and no breaks in the case, the Rhode Island State Police took over the murder investigation. With no other suspects, the focus fell on Scott, and after another three years of investigative work, Scott was arrested and charged for the murder of Vicky Cushman. On only the basis of his early deception about his relationship with Cushman and other circumstantial evidence – with no DNA or any hard evidence of any kind—Scott was tried and convicted of 1st degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Scott spent six and half years behind bars before being exonerated after the real killer came forward in and confessed to the murder. Vicky’s murderer, Todd Barry, who lived near his victim and had been dating her on and off at the time of the homicide, confessed to police that he had been consumed with guilt that an innocent man was serving time for a crime that he committed.
Scott’s extraordinary story revolves around his experiences on both sides of the criminal justice system, taking him from being a police officer to convicted murderer, from decorated cop to a lifer in prison, from an educated professional to a prison law clerk fighting for his life. After serving 6 years, 4 months and 18 days of a life sentence, existing behind razor wire-lined cinderblock walls with dangerous convicts, some of which he helped to lock up, Scott left the degradation and humiliation behind him forever a few days after Barry’s confession to the murder. With his head high, Scott returned back into society and to a life that was unfamiliar to the one he left behind when he entered prison. His wife had divorced him while he was in incarcerated, many of his friends turned his back on him, he had to fight for his pension and back pay and struggled to find employment.
Scott’s sentence was eventually vacated and the charges dismissed “with prejudice,” a term that means he could never be charged again. Although he was released from prison and cleared of all charges, he is still not completely free.