Survivor: Robby Klaber
Date of Event:
Location of Event: Chicago MarathonRescuer(s):
I’ve always been active. I biked 3,000 miles from Providence, Rhode Island to Seattle, Washington while in college, and ran the Miami Marathon in 2012 and the San Francisco Half Marathon in 2013. On October 12, 2014, at 29 years old, I was eager to run in my hometown race, the Chicago Marathon.
After recording my fastest ever 10K, I got to mile 7, and wham! I felt as if I had been punched in the stomach. I felt dizzy, so I walked for a minute to catch my breath. My lightheadedness subsided, and I resumed running. I waved to spectators cheering me on as I passed mile 8. When I approached the mile 9 marker, I collapsed.
Hannah Daniels, who was running behind me, saw me fall and immediately stopped her own race in order to help a complete stranger. Makenzie O’Bryan soon followed, and they both worked forcefully to help bring me back to life. Despite being exhausted from already running nine miles and from nearly 10 minutes of intense CPR, their technique was perfect – I didn’t suffer a single bruised or broken rib. At one point, while Hannah was doing compressions, Makenzie made the call you never want to make – informing my wife, who was waiting to see me at mile 13, that her husband was in sudden cardiac arrest.
“Robert – Do you know where you are? We just saved your life.” It went in one ear and out the other. Not having any idea where I was, I instinctively pleaded, “You’ve got to let me finish this race. I can do this!” Again, the man repeated, “Robert – Do you know where you are?” I looked around. Then it hit me. I was laying flat in an ambulance with five firefighters standing over me. At that moment, I realized something had gone terribly wrong. A few seconds later, the ambulance doors opened, and I entered a hospital. Amidst the ensuing chaos, I knew it was a miracle that I was still alive.
While sitting in a hospital bed later that day, a nurse handed me a Post-it Note with Hannah’s name and phone number. Immediately after running 26.2 miles, she managed to discover which hospital I was rushed to and told the nurse that if I was alive, it would mean the world to her to hear from me. Makenzie also proactively reached out to my wife after the marathon.
Hannah and Makenzie are both heroes in the deepest sense of the word. Each of them selflessly helped save a stranger’s life, while demonstrating the power of teamwork. Because they both performed CPR, they were less fatigued and able to maintain exceptional CPR technique. Miraculously, I didn’t suffer any physical injuries or neurological damage.
I call Hannah and Makenzie every year on October 12 to express my gratitude. Always humble and deflecting praise, Hannah and Makenzie restore one’s faith in humanity—they are superheroes personified.