Valley dad thanks college students for helping save his life

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Perry Harris thanked those who helped save his life last month. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Perry Harris thanked those who helped save his life last month. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Harris was hanging out with his family during GCU's Run to Fight Children's Cancer when all of a sudden he passed out. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Harris was hanging out with his family during GCU's Run to Fight Children's Cancer when all of a sudden he passed out. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Medical experts believe if those first responders had not grabbed a nearby AED defibrillator to help Harris, he would likely not have survived. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Medical experts believe if those first responders had not grabbed a nearby AED defibrillator to help Harris, he would likely not have survived. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
On Wednesday, the students and others first responders who jumped into action were honored at GCU. On Wednesday, the students and others first responders who jumped into action were honored at GCU.
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

It's not easy thanking someone for saving your life, but 59-year old Perry Harris gave it his best shot Wednesday during a special ceremony at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix.

"I want to thank every single one of you in this room," said Harris. "Whether you had a large part in saving my life or a small part in saving my life."

Last month, the Peoria man was on campus during GCU's Run to Fight Children's Cancer, when something went terribly wrong.

Harris was hanging out with his family when all of a sudden he passed out.

"I got back to the finish line and I look at my brother and I said I was dizzy," said Harris. "Then I realized I was blacking out and said, 'I am going down.'"

Harris was having a heart attack, but fortunately for him, there was an athletic trainer nearby, and a doctor and group of GCU sports medicine students, who jumped into action to save the Valley dad's life.

Medical experts believe if those first responders had not grabbed a nearby AED defibrillator to help Harris, he would likely not have survived.

Sports trainer Emily Dunning was one of the volunteers who helped Harris.  

"To hear that patient respond and become responsive, knowing that he was entering the ambulance somewhat conscious, was a good feeling," said Dunning. "I knew we did what we could at the time."

On Wednesday, the students and others first responders who jumped into action were honored at GCU.

Harris said he wouldn't be here without them.

"Isn't it great to be alive," said Harris.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

Jason Barry
Jason Barry has been reporting in the Valley since 1997.

Click to learn more about Jason.

Jason Barry

Jason Barry has been reporting in the Valley since 1997.

He is a nine-time Rocky Mountain Emmy Award winner who is best known for his weekly Dirty Dining reports, which highlight local restaurants with major health code violations.

Jason was born in Los Angeles and graduated from the University of Miami.

An avid sports fan, Jason follows the Diamondbacks, Cardinals and Suns with his wife, Karen, and son, Joshua.

His favorite stories to cover are the station’s Pay it Forward segments, which reward members of the community with $500 for going ‘above and beyond’ the call of duty to help others.

Jason, started his career at WBTW-TV in Florence, SC before moving to WALA-TV in Mobile, AL, was named the Associated Press Reporter of the Year in 2002.

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