PLATTSBURGH - Having a heart attack at the age of 18 has been the scariest thing Richard Adickes has ever gone through, he said.
The 21-year-old State University of New York at Plattsburgh student recalled the episode during this year's Plattsburgh Start! Heart Walk Sept. 25, at the PARC Oval.
"All I remember is I was running a race, I blacked out," said Adickes, who was honored at the event as a Red Cap Survivor. "I woke up on a hospital with tubes tied to my chest and doctors just surrounding me. I was very scared."
It wasn't until some time later Adickes learned he had suffered a massive heart attack. The news didn't make sense to Adickes, who was, by all other accounts, a healthy teenage boy.
"It came as a huge shock because I ran every day. I was always physically active. I always did the right things and I didn't understand why my body wasn't working or why I was given this burden," said Adickes.
With no family history of genetically-related heart problems, there was no clear-cut reason for his attack, said Adickes. Eventually, it was chalked up to a possible birth defect in his heart.
Regardless of the reason, Adickes' incident gave him a newfound outlook on life, he told the crowd of more than 1,300 people last Saturday.
"It makes you appreciate life a little bit more, without a doubt," he said.
The heart attack hasn't slowed him down, however. Adickes is still very active as a member of Plattsburgh State's cross country team and indoor-outdoor track program.
"I firmly believe if I wasn't a cross country runner, if I wasn't as physically fit, I would not have survived that heart attack," he explained. "So, I try to keep it up every day."
Christopher Goheens, a 9-year-old boy from Peru, also knows what it's like to go through heart-related issues. Goheens suffered from complications from hypolastic left heart syndrome last December, forever changing his life.