The Comeback Kid
Snowie saved my life. Literally. On my first day of business, I went into sudden-death cardiac arrest. If it had not been for my presence at our company’s first event, my cardiac arrest would have very likely been un-witnessed, as most are, and I would have died within minutes. Here is my story.
As a former banker, I had been looking for a new business opportunity. Since I have a close family, I was interested in starting a family-owned and operated venture, something that my wife, son and daughter could become involved with. I looked into a few options over the years, but they all lacked that special “something”.
That is until my son and his family were at a baseball game and saw their first Snowie building. He called me immediately and excitedly began to talk about how cool and fun this Snowie unit looked, how excited the people in line were by the flavor station, and how delicious the “shaved ice difference” really was. “The kids and grownups love it!” he said.
I researched Snowie online and recognized the potential for the Houston market. Never one to rush into things, I further investigated this business venture. I flew to Salt Lake City to observe in person the Snowie operation and was impressed with not only the product but also the people behind it. I was sold; I established an LLC creating Snowie Gulf Coast, ordered my Snowie equipment and supplies, received my health certifications, and looked forward to our first event.
During the winter of 2012, we prepped for the coming year, practicing shaving ice, testing flavors on overly-willing family members, training the family employees, setting up and taking down the mobile building, and working on our sales pitch and marketing. My son began making connections in the community, my wife designed our marketing campaign, and my daughter developed our social media presence.
The popular, three-day-long Pearland Crawfish Festival on April 5, 2013 was our first day of operation. Since my son works during the week, I was responsible for the set-up and operations that Friday. I was excited, anxious and stressed. The vendors around me were busy too; we had all introduced ourselves while setting up. My morning passed quickly with all the last minute details. The gates were about to open, the crowds soon to arrive, and I was carrying in my last cooler of ice… and that is the last thing I remember.
My wife, on her way to the airport to fly to meet our daughter in Chicago for her bridal shower, received this call from a stranger, “Your husband has had a heart attack. They are giving him CPR. We are waiting for the ambulance.” Stunned but determined, she immediately had the driver change course for the Houston Medical Center, began calling and coordinating medical file transfers and doctors, and prepared herself to make the hardest calls – those to our children.
Not knowing if I was alive or dead, my son, daughter and wife were all simultaneously in-transit to the hospital. My son, adamant that I would pull through and therefore more concerned about how much additional stress I would feel if our first event was a failure, began to think “Dad won’t make it if he finds out Snowie never opened at the Pearland Crawfish Festival.” After checking in with his mother and being assured that I had arrived at the hospital and was in very capable hands, he decided to go work the festival. With a friend’s help and some quick, on-the-job training, the two of them worked feverishly until they finally got our building with yellow windsock waving proudly, open for business. Throughout the following hours, nearby police and vendors came to my son to tell him the story of my collapse and the life-saving events that followed.
Now, for the rest of the story: we counted several miracles that happened that day, the lack of any of which could have meant my certain death.
Snowie and I are both the “Comeback Kids!” Snowie literally saved my life. 9 out of 10 people who experience sudden-death cardiac arrest die, due in great part to these events being un-witnessed. When I collapsed that Friday morning, I hit the Snowie building so hard that a policeman heard the sound, ran over to investigate, and began to administer immediate chest compressions. He shouted around for anyone who knew CPR to please come assist. A young woman who on a whim had decided to help her friend sell purses in a nearby booth that day (a booth that was supposed to have been located on the other side of the festival grounds and nowhere near the food vendors), heard the call for help. Newly certified as a first responder, she hesitated to help, assuming that someone more experienced would respond. Her friends motivated her to go, and as she assessed the situation she could tell the chest compressions were not deep enough and that rescue breaths were needed. She took charge, breathing for me for over 20 minutes. Other vendors, acquaintances I had made that day during set-up, called for EMS, got my wallet and phone, and coordinated my hospital arrangements with my wife. The EMS was very slow to arrive – even though they were meant to have already been on site for the festival – and one bystander finally got on the phone with veiled threats to speed them on their way. Finally, after another hour of stabilizing inside the EMS vehicle, I was on my way to the hospital where the doctors and staff continued the efforts begun by others to bring me back to life.
Monday afternoon in the hospital, as I regained some clarity from the drug-induced haze I had been under throughout the weekend, my family presented me with a bank deposit slip for our weekend earnings and a crisp $5 bill – our first sale. They began to tell me the tale of not only my medical adventure but also their Snowie adventure. My son, daughter-in-law, daughter, sister and brother-in-law had dropped everything and joined together to run shifts and keep Snowie open for business for the whole event. News of what had happened to me spread across the crowds. People came by our Snowie building to try the great shaved ice, to tell their side of the story of that Friday morning, and to join their prayers with those of my family.
It was a long road to recovery. But, after four broken ribs from CPR, three weeks in ICU, double bypass surgery, and much more, I had survived. My wife and son stepped in and took over the Snowie reigns. Only three months later, Snowie Gulf Coast was one of 26 vendors for the biggest Houston event of all – the Fourth of July “Freedom Over Texas” in downtown Houston with top-of-the-charts entertainers, food and fireworks. This was my first event, post-surgery, and what a come back! The afternoon prior as vendors were setting up, a Channel 11 news anchorwoman filmed promos and of the one-minute of coverage, 30 seconds was totally devoted to my family’s Snowie business! The next evening, the Fourth of July “Freedom Over Texas” began. Throngs of people arrived. Many had seen the news broadcast and came to taste Snowie shaved-ice and enjoy the unique flavor station for themselves. It was a huge hit!
And now you know the rest of the story. Snowie Gulf Coast and I truly are the “Comeback Kids,” and I can’t wait to write the next chapter of our story for 2014. Please help me grow this wonderful business by voting on my story!