Posted on 11/11/2021
Kevin Volpp, MD, PhD, and family
Kevin Volpp, MD, and family

A little after 9 p.m. on a Friday in July, Dr. Kevin Volpp arrived at a restaurant in Cincinnati with his 15-year-old daughter Daphne, her squash coach and some friends. Everyone was tired and eager for a good meal.

Daphne was coming off her second long, intense match of the day, with another the next morning. The tournament was important enough to have lured them away from Philadelphia on the 52nd birthday of Marjorie Volpp, Daphne's mom and Kevin's wife.

Kevin needed to fuel up because he was 16 days from competing in an Ironman 70.3 event. He'd never done anything like it. But when one of his older daughters suggested it, doing something so challenging – and doing it with her – felt irresistible. By this night, he was easily in his best shape since his mid-20s.

Next to Kevin sat John White, the squash coach at Drexel University, boyfriend of Daphne's coach and himself a squash legend. He'd even been nicknamed, "The Legend." A former world No. 1, his game had been all about power. For years, he held the record for the hardest shot.

White ordered the filet mignon and Maine lobster tail. That sounded good to Kevin, so he ordered it, too.

Chewing his first bite, Kevin reached for his water but knocked it over.

Then he slumped onto the table and tumbled toward White.

His heart wasn't beating.

What happened next is a story rich in lessons about living and about avoiding death. It's about the importance of knowing CPR, why being fit always helps, and what's possible when every link in the chain of survival holds firm. Most of all, it's about relationships, and how they can be forever changed.

SOURCE: American Heart Association