CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — It doesn’t matter what the weather is like. Dan Sholem loves running and has his entire life.
“I love the freedom,” Sholem said. “I love being outside.”
He used to jog for hours at a time. Now he’s not allowed to do it alone.
Sholem said laughing, “My wife thinks it’s a good idea that I don’t go out on my own for a little bit.”
It’s because seven months ago, Sholem was jogging down this sidewalk on Mattis Avenue when he suddenly had a heart attack and collapsed on someone’s front lawn. University of Illinois Associate Dean of Students Gina Olukoya was the first person to stop.
“That day I listened to that inner voice to intervene,” she remembered.
She called 911 and felt for a pulse. As cars zipped by, another woman stopped to help and another stopped to pray. Then Olukoya says an angel walked up.
Jake Mackey had just gotten off work as a surgical nurse at OSF in Urbana. He described what he saw.
“He was kind of heaped over that you could tell walking up that’s not how you rest.”
Mackey started compressions, his first ever outside of a hospital.
“He didn’t have long before it would have been too late.”
Minutes later EMT’s and firefighters got to the scene. They raced Sholem to the hospital where he was rushed into surgery.
Sholem said, “I had complete blockage and it was just a matter of time until I would have gone down.” Hours later, his wife Tracy realized she hadn’t heard from him.
“They don’t actually know who he is because he’s been a John Doe there for almost three hours because he has no ID, nothing.”
Doctors put Sholem into a drug induced coma to let his body heal. His wife tearfully talked about what she was going through during those days.
“I have no idea what I’m going to get. That was my biggest fear. I knew the heart was working fine. I just didn’t know the brain was going to be okay.”
Four days later, Sholem woke up. His heart and brain were working.
“It was the perfect extraordinary scenario and I was just the lucky person who pulled the right lottery ticket that day.”
He was lucky that day that many angels decided they weren’t just going to drive by.
“If those girls had not stopped, I would not have looked over there,” Mackey said.
Olukoya followed up, “I would hope someone would do the same for me. We should just stop. We shouldn’t think about it.”
And Tracy Sholem had nothing but gratitude for all of those involved.
“Gina and Jake and the other women there, God bless them for all they did for my husband and my family. I can’t say enough.”
Dan Sholem is so grateful for what Mackey did that Sholem called him on his birthday. He said he wouldn’t have been celebrating number 55 if it wasn’t for him and he’s going to call him every year.
But the one person he really wants to call is the woman who stopped to pray. No one knows who she is. She quietly left before anyone could get her name. If anyone know who she is, the Sholems would love to thank her.