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St. Luke’s supporter pays it forward – year after year after year

Sgt. Dave Benefield of the Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office holds up a new AED.
By Michelle Bartlome, News and Community
August 13, 2020
Rick Horner
Rick Horner

Survivor turned donor – and with that gift, benefactor to so many others all across the Magic Valley.

Meet Rick Horner.

Horner moved to the Magic Valley in 1976, purchased a business and grew it until 2010, when he sold Culligan Water Conditioning.

“All of a sudden, I was retired and I started looking for things to do,” he said. “Dr. Ben Katz, he was my next-door neighbor.

“We had just sold the business. He came over and asked if I was interested in joining the hospital foundation board and I said sure.”

About that time, Horner started going to the YMCA every morning and was visiting with his physician annually for check-ups. He wasn’t aware there was anything to be concerned about.

“I had a V-fib, where my heart goes into neutral, where it pumps but it’s not pumping blood anywhere,” he said. “I passed out at the gym.”

Horner was lucky. One of the people in the gym was a member of the Jerome County Sheriff’s Office who came over and started CPR.

Jerry Coon receives AEDs for the South Hills Retreat and Valley Christian Church.

After CPR was performed, the management at the YMCA brought over an AED (automated external defibrillator).

“I don’t remember any of this,” Horner said. “It’s my understanding that they AEDed me twice. The second time, it actually started my heart back in rhythm again.

“It was at about that time that the paramedics from the hospital arrived to take care of me,” he said.

Horner was transported to St. Luke’s Magic Valley.

“They found that my heart was mostly blocked with plaque. They put me to sleep for a day or so,” he said. “They didn’t know if I was going to be okay or not okay.

“It turned out that I was just fine.”

Sort of. Horner went to St. Luke’s in Boise for a three-way bypass. In Boise, he was told, he remembers, “‘You are a very lucky guy. You had minimal damage to your heart through the quick actions of the paramedic and the use of the AED.’”

After this experience, Horner wanted to honor the sheriff’s deputy who saved his life, so he bought AEDs to distribute.

“I made a commitment to contribute money every year to supply it.”

Horner chose to route his generosity through the Magic Valley Health Foundation; he has been involved since Dr. Katz’s invitation years ago.

“I thought it was best to do it through an organization like the hospital,” he said. “They help set up the equipment when it goes in, and they get trained properly.”

St. Luke’s Magic Valley Health Foundation has an AED Committee that reviews community applications for AEDs each year.

“Every year, Rick funds the AED Fund so that our committee can supply them in our community,” said Dawn Soto, St. Luke’s Magic Valley Health Foundation executive director.

“We are truly blessed to have Rick on our board and in our lives.”

The Magic Valley Paramedics Public Access Defibrillation Committee recently held its annual meeting and will give 10 machines this year to:

  • Boys and Girls Club of Magic Valley
  • First Baptist Church of Twin Falls
  • The Jerome Police Department
  • South Hills Retreat Center         
  • The Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office
  • Valley Christian Church

Over the years, numerous organizations have received an AED because of the generosity of individuals like Horner.

“Every time I see an AED, I just smile because I think that’s cool,” Horner said. “Because quite honestly, what I had ... There is nothing to say that I couldn’t have passed out at home while I was feeding cattle.

“It was very fortunate that I … happened to be next to a county sheriff deputy who was willing to put what he knew into practice.”

About The Author

Michelle Bartlome is the public relations manager at St. Luke's Magic Valley.

Related Hospital

St. Luke's Magic Valley Medical Center
801 Pole Line Road W.
Twin Falls, ID 83301
(208) 814-1000

Related Foundation

Magic Valley Foundation