Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone

Saving Havens

Heroic actions revive 84-year-old in YMCA aerobics class

(ROCKWALL, TX — June 9, 2017)  Paul Havens may have turned 84 this year, but he hasn’t slowed down for a second. After attending daily exercise classes at the JER Chilton YMCA for the past eight  years, he has become somewhat of a favorite amongst instructors and classmates alike.

“He is the life of the party,” Aerobics Instructor Kellee Marley said. “Everybody at the Y loves Paul.”

After teaching black belt Judo for 20 years, Havens said it just came naturally to him to want to stay fit regardless of his age.

“It’s something that is built into you,” Havens said.

Havens even met his wife Jan at the YMCA seven years ago, and now the two of them happily return every day for fitness classes: aerobics for Paul, swimming for Jan.

It came as a total shock to Havens and his whole class when he suffered a heart attack in the middle of his Cardio Fusion exercises on May 16, 2017. Marley, who is the instructor of the class, said when she saw that Havens had stopped moving she did not initially realize he was serious.

“He is such a comedian, when he went down we thought that he was joking,” Marley said.

Marley asked April Onofre, a registered nurse in the class, to check on Paul and make sure he was ok. It was then that they realized he had fallen unconscious. When Onofre checked for a pulse, she found that he had none.

Determined not to panic, Marley made sure someone called 911 and retrieved an AED defibrillator machine. The machine would not shock Havens since he didn’t have a heartbeat, so Marley immediately began to perform CPR. As Marley and Onofre worked together, the Cardio Fusion class encircled Havens and prayed for him. After three rounds of breathing, Marley saw that the resuscitation was working.

“I saw something change in his eyes,” Marley said. “I started yelling, ‘Can you hear me Paul?’”

True to his personality, Havens wanted Marley to resume class the moment he regained consciousness.

“He said ‘I’m fine, go back to teaching your class!’” Marley said.

Just as Marley had successfully revived Havens, an ambulance arrived and transported him to the hospital. The next day, he received a stint. The next week, he returned to the YMCA for continued, though less rigorous, exercise.

Havens said according to his doctor, there was nothing about his lifestyle that could have prevented him needing the stint and that sometimes they are just necessary with age. But the best news he received was that he suffered no permanent heart damage thanks to his good health.

In a heartfelt letter to the YMCA, Havens said he is thankful to God and to his community for saving his life that day.

“What better place than the YMCA Rockwall to work out and associate with a group of loving people,” Havens said. “The picture is clear, isn’t it? We need one another. Thanks to God we have been given to one another in Christ.”

Marley said one of her biggest takeaways from the experience was the importance of familiarity with CPR. As an instructor at the YMCA, she is required to retake the course annually.

“I think everyone should learn how to do CPR,” Marley said. “You never know who could need it.”

Although Marley’s actions were instrumental in saving Havens, she says she takes no credit.

“I give God the glory,” Marley said. “I feel so blessed that I was able to be there and he was at the Y when it happened. He was in our class for a reason that day. I truly believe God was there.”

Havens doesn’t plan to let even a heart attack stand in his way. As soon as he finishes his sessions of physical therapy, he plans to return to regular aerobic exercise classes at the Y.

“I’ll be back in class, the good Lord willing.” Havens said.

Story and photo by Julie Anne White, Blue Ribbon News.

Our monthly print edition is delivered free to 19,000+ homes in Rockwall and Heath, TX.

To share your good news and events, email .

Subscribe to our email newsletter here.

Advertising: 214-342-8000 or .