HINSDALE, Ill. (CBS) — The 4th of July isn’t just any holiday for a man named Ron Raidy. It’s anniversary of the day he died and was brought back to life.
It happened exactly one year ago, while he was marching in Hinsdale’s Independence Day parade.
CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports Raidy was marching again a year later, decked out in a Confederate uniform, with his fellow Civil War re-enactors.
“I’m here. I’m back. I told you I’d be back. It’s great to be upright,” Raidy said as he marched down the streets of Hinsdale.
Raidy loves reenacting the Civil War, and he loves being in the July 4th parade, but he loves being alive the most.
“It’s a new chance. I mean, some never thought I would be here again,” Raidy said.
That’s how he sees his life now, exactly one year after he collapsed while marching in the Independence Day parade in Hinsdale.
“I was dead. I was dead, probably 8 to 12 minutes,” he said.
Raidy and his fellow Stanford’s Battery Civil War re-enactors said his heart just stopped as he walked alongside a cannon.
He said the only reason he didn’t suffer brain damage from a loss of blood flow to the brain was that a doctor from Adventist Hinsdale Hospital was also marching in the parade, and started performing CPR immediately after Raidy collapsed.
His friend Chuck Wozniak said the group was passing water around, and he noticed Raidy looked ill.
“I’m like, ‘Hey, are you okay?’ He goes, ‘I’m fine,” and I looked at him and then he just rolled his eyes back and fell down. I just bear hugged him, laid him down,” Wozniak said.
Doctors from Adventist Hinsdale Hospital happened to be marching behind Raidy, and rushed to help.
“Last year, when we put him in the ambulance, I frankly thought that that was it,” said Dr. Gary Lipinski, one of the doctors who helped treat Raidy until an ambulance could take him to the hospital.
Luckily for Raidy, that wasn’t it when he suffered a heart attack during last year’s parade. He not only regained consciousness at the hospital, he insisted on marching again this year, because everyone had been so good to him.
“We were really excited to see him back here. It actually leaves me a little touched. It’s hard to talk about,” Gina Hassett, Hinsdale’s Director of Parks and Recreation.
Asked if Raidy should have been marching in the extreme heat at Wednesday’s parade, Lipinski — the chief medical officer for Hinsdale Hospital — said “Hopefully he’s riding, he’s not walking.”
When informed Raidy was indeed walking, Lipinski said, “He’s probably been through some good cardiac rehab then. … We’ll keep an eye on him too.”
Raidy had bypass surgery and quit smoking. Now, at 61 years old, Raidy said he is celebrating his first birthday all over again.
“I definitely feel that I’m here for a reason, but I’m not trying to figure out, because when it comes, I’ll know,” Raidy said.
Raidy admitted he was a little nervous about marching today, in this heat, but people were keeping an eye on him.
The Stanford’s Battery group also has a new rule: from now on, no one over the age of 55 is allowed to march in a parade. Today, Raidy was the only exception.