Posted on 11/23/2021
Joshua Zelek

Survivor: John Zelek

Date of Event:

Location of Event: Stratford, Ontario, Canada

Joshua Zelek
Corry Feore
Juliet Edwards

It was the evening of Friday June 12, 2020. My son Joshua and I had just started playing tennis at the Stratford Tennis Club. We had only rallied a few times when I dropped on the court.

 I am told that Joshua rushed to my side and yelled for help. Corry and Juliet who were playing tennis on the court next to us rushed to my aid and started to apply CPR. The tennis staff at the club house called 911 and the paramedics arrived four minutes later and were able to bring me back with a jolt of electricity. Joshua telephoned my wife Laura in a calm manner after I was revived and explained what had happened. 

I was rushed to the hospital and was only aware of what had happened when I awoke the next day. I had had a cardiac arrest without any warning. I learned after that only 5 to 10% of people survive a cardiac arrest outside of the hospital. I spent the next five days in the hospital and had a stent inserted, which seemed to correct my ECG signal. 

I am grateful to Corry, Juliet, and Joshua for their rapid response, as in the days that followed it was evident that I did not suffer any cognitive deficiencies. This was important to me as my day job is a university professor and my brain is the tool of my trade. 

It has been over a year since my life-changing event, and I am so appreciative of my immediate family, who has shown me how much I am loved, making me realize how fortunate I am for that. I am also appreciative of my extended family and friends for their support. 

Laura and Joshua have been so caring, making sure my recovery was smooth. Our dog Fozzie was relieved when I returned home and has not left my side since my return. 

I have changed my lifestyle, changing my diet to be low-fat vegan, trying to reduce my stress. Even though I exercised already, I also started exercising on a regular basis, starting gradually and now bicycling about 25 km a day, finding that it also relaxes me as well. 

As I am writing this, Laura and I just returned last week from driving Joshua back to Princeton University for his sophomore year (the past year was a gap year for him). Joshua is on the cross country and track team and his devotion to training every day was an inspiration for me to start cycling on a regular basis. 

Corry and Juliet keep track of me, even bringing over a bottle of champagne on the anniversary of my cardiac arrest. Life is precious and I am grateful to be here as without Corry, Juliet and Joshua, I would not be here today.

Nominated by John Zelek