Epilogue: What Happened Next?

The runner who collapsed is Jim, a 47 year old Willow Glen resident.   He celebrated his 48th birthday the following Tuesday – the day before a successful bi-pass surgery. The doctors have given him a positive prognosis for recovery. He was lucky in many ways that day. Because he collapsed in cardiac arrest – not a heart attack — he did not have any lasting damage to his heart.  Jim and Heather met for the second time exactly one month after those first eleven minutes.

Jim and Heather

Jim and Heather

For close to 36 hours after his cardiac arrest, Jim was unidentified in the hospital, heavily sedated and unable to talk to the hospital staff.   His girlfriend had to break into his house, trying to find him and found his wallet and everything as it should be in his home.  She called the local hospitals to find him. Jim’s family lives out of town and needed to fly to San Jose once they heard.   Those first days must have been just a nightmare for Jim’s girlfriend and family and Heather wishes it could have been prevented somehow.

The dawn dwellers at Willow Glen High School have changed too. They now know one another’s names, say a cheerful good morning and will all be looking out for one another much more closely now. Some have started to always carry their phones and IDs with them. For Heather personally, it is easier to get up at the crack of dawn knowing that there are friendly faces and always someone to walk with if her workout buddy Marisa can’t make it that day. It has been heart-warming and fascinating to see how small the world really is and how readily all are to reach out to share the latest update on Jim – someone no one had ever talked to before.

Heather has scheduled to take a refresher course in CPR and First Aid at the local Red Cross.  Her previous CPR certification expired in 1991.

Jim has no memory about why he chose to run on the track that day instead of his usual run on neighborhood streets.

UPDATE 1. In July 2010, Jim married his girlfriend in a fairytale wedding ceremony in Carmel. They invited Heather and her husband to attend, who were honored to be included in the magical, emotional and wonderful day.

UPDATE 2. On September 28, 2010, this story will be available in bookstores in the “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Positive” book.  After much encouragement from friends and family, and especially Jim’s sister Susan, Heather submitted the story on a whim to the publisher and was honored that they accepted it!


25 responses

20 09 2009
Corinne Phipps

The human spirit, fragile and strong, vulnerable. We need to count on one another to do the right thing for humanity. And Heather, you are a leader among us. Thank you for reminding me why we are here.

26 02 2010
Heather G

And I am thankful for you in my life!

21 09 2009

Heather, thank you…..a deep, humble, astounded, grateful thank you. I am a good friend of Jim’s girlfriend, and I am shaken just reading this. Your clarity in communicating these events is a gift. I am deeply touched by your courage and compassion, both while you were saving Jim’s life and now, as you recount the story.

I give you my deep, humble, astounded and grateful thank you….

26 02 2010
Heather G

Kendra, Thank you. I have gained much from this experience as well. It has been great meeting both Jim and Jessica as well– all our lives are indeed interconnected more ways than we can imagine.

21 09 2009
Matt Penning

Thank you so much for responding and giving this fellow back his world. Amazing story. I don’t run, but I do go out and walk to photograph. I’ll be sure to keep my wallet and cell with emergency ICE numbers on me!

26 02 2010
Heather G

Matt – Good idea to keep your In Case of Emergency contacts with you. Thanks for your post.

23 09 2009

An eye-opening story!! God (or however one wants to refer to him; Fate, Luck, Chance, Destiny, Coincidence) has a plan for everything.

The immediate take away from this story is to always care some type of identification!!

Thank you for posting this story.

23 09 2009

Your story touched me so deeply. Jim has been a friend of mine for 14 years. The right words evade me now, but I know for certain God has special plans for Jim. You’re a truly amazing human being!

26 02 2010
Heather G

Thank you Lisa!

26 09 2009
Eleven Minutes Made a Difference

[…] epilogue to the story provides a few more details, and assures us that the stricken man has a positive prognosis for […]

19 10 2009

Miracles happen every day; often without us noticing at the time, just like Heather experienced.

My daughter died for 35 minutes, and spent 6 days on life support with a flat EEG before we decided to remove her to end her life, so she could die in our arms, with our love.

After making the funeral and hospital plans, and having the entire church pray for her, and us that morning, we dressed Rebecca in her prettiest clothes, and went into a private room with the nurse, and ….did it.

Those were moments that are difficult to describe.

Rebecca was to die in 10 minutes, and twice she stopped breathing, and the second time the nurse told us she had passed. These were truly crushing moments for us.

Somehow, she started breathing again, and even had good color.

We went through the day, holding her and loving her, and at 10 PM we put her to bed and kissed her good night and she literally opened her eyes and started moving her arms and legs and crying.

Like Heather, we were too stunned to comprehend what was happening.

Our journey has been incredible, as has Rebecca’s.

Read her own story at:


“God Kissed my Forehead.”

as well as our story describing our journey with a child who clearly remembers dying, going to heaven, and returning.

“Suffering with Faith in God’s Purpose”


24 10 2009
John Campbell

Powerful story; thank you for sharing. The runners and walkers in my family use the identification provided at the following website: website:http://www.roadid.com/Common/default.aspx. It fits right on the laces of their running shoes so should the need arise, their loved ones can be notified quickly in case of emergency.

24 10 2009

Heather ,
This is a wonderful and very powerful description of the day you helped save a life. You gave this man back his life and also gave his family and friends the chance to spend more time together. My husband suffered a Sudden Cardiac Arrest on an airplane as it was taking off. Because of the immediate response of a fellow passenger who gave him CPR and the Flight Attendant who grabbed the onboard AED and used it as she had been taught his life was saved. Since that time our family has been doing all that we can to make the Public more aware of SCA and the importance of knowing CPR and how to use an AED. We are members of a National organization – Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association and part of the local San Francisco Bay Area Chapter. We would like very much to speak with you and offer you our personal thanks. You were in the place you were supposed to be in on that very early morning ! What an amazing story this is ! Best to you, Anita ( you can go to the website at http://www.suddencardiacarrest.org and then to Chapters for our contact information.)

3 03 2010

Jim is a business contact for us (in Fresno), but he has become a friend over the years! We are celebrating the miracle of this encounter!
Jeff Krohn

6 06 2011
Heather G

Thanks Jeff. I’m a FSU grad myself…go Bulldogs!

8 02 2011
Mark Murphy

From having just met you in an ordinary business meeting to reading about your EXTRAORDINARY actions…it is this human connection that I will carry with me and remember you most.

11 minutes that wonderfully changed your life, his life, and the lives of so many that reverberate from the two of you.


8 02 2011
Heather G

Thanks Mark. Through this experience, I have also come to firmly believe that every ordinary person has done, or has the potential to do, extraordinary things…and without storytelling we never know about them. It has also changed how I look at my job as well, as storytelling is a bit of a lost art in internal communications but it is a most powerful tool to connect and inspire one another to affect change.

It was nice meeting you today. Thank you for taking a moment to read and comment here.

27 03 2011
Hamza Balol

What a beautiful picture Heather. God bless both of you. Life is a shipwreck, we must not forget to sing in the lifeboat.

Best regards,

6 06 2011
Heather G

Thank you for your touching comments Hamza. I will remember to sing! -Heather

29 03 2011

I live in the Bay Area as well and after reading your story in Chicken Soup, I tried looking you up on Facebook to see if I could find out the end of this story as soon as I finished reading it! I’m glad it ended on a positive note.

6 06 2011
Heather G

Thanks April!

31 03 2011

Wow, Heather! All I can say is “Wow!” When I read your story in “Chicken Soup”, it sent a chill down my spine. Just to think if you hadn’t been there, at that precise moment… Would someone else have noticed in time? There are so many “what ifs” we can add to this, but thankfully, you were there, and you did what you did. Thank you for your story, and I’m so glad it has a good ending!

6 06 2011
Heather G

Me too! 🙂 — Thanks Liz.

14 05 2011
Chris Casa Santa


What an amazing story. You should feel very proud of yourself for helping Jim in his moment of crisis. By your actions you extended the happiness of so many people who live and work and socialize with Jim. A former president of the United States once said in a speech that people need to be known more for what they did to contribute to society as well as others and other organizations and not only by what was their income. This story is going to help me make more of a conscious effort to stop and help those in need when they are experiencing a difficult time.
God Bless

P.S. I read your story in the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book.

6 06 2011
Heather G

Thanks for taking the time to comment! I think there are many lessons from this day that I have still to learn. Glad that it spoke to you too. – Heather

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