LA CROSSE, Wisc. (WXOW)- The Malecek family looks forward to the first weekend in June every year. It's state track weekend where triplets Kora, Amalia, and Lydia compete for Onalaska.
Last year's state track meet was filled with the highest of highs as the girls took home medals, but things quickly took a turn that evening. The Maleceks had family over celebrating, and Dave was just feeling off. He figured it was from the nerves all day.
"Got home was grilling for everybody, but, I'd go in the back room between flipping burgers and try to catch my breath, and so just did not feel very good," Malecek said.
"Sunday morning early, he got up and was like 'I just don't feel great', and that's the first he had said," Dave's wife Kayah-Bah Malecek said.
Chest pain was the first sign that something was seriously wrong.
"We jumped in the car and like probably two minutes into the drive, he's like 'I think I'm fine you can turn around', and I'm like 'no we're going', and then we get to like the first stop light, and he's like' I think you need to run the light,'" Kayah-Bah said.
"We probably got a couple miles down the road, and I started saying you gotta run red lights because I didn't think I was going to make it," Malecek said. "I couldn't catch my breath, anxiety kicks in, all the symptoms. All of a sudden you're short of breath and you've got pain and it's like 'okay I'm in trouble.'"
When they got to the hospital, it was just minutes before a dozen doctors filled the room.
"They did all these tests, and they're like okay you're having a heart attack, we gotta get you upstairs," Malecek said. "I mean I think from the time I walked in the door, to the time I was having stints put in it was maybe 40 minutes, 35-40 minutes."
The Maleceks don't remember all the details of this nightmare, but they'll never forgot what the doctor told them.
"He's like people who don't come in when they are feeling this way, don't have a chance to," Kayah-Bah said.
"I've thought of that line probably, if not every day, every couple hours," Malecek said. "Like wow you got to enjoy today and flipping the script of taking the negatives in the world of what's going on, and it's not so bad today. Man, I get today. It really makes me grateful for every day. You have this opportunity and my stubbornness almost got in my way."
Dave has a history of heart disease in his family and that played a role, but it can happen to anybody, and that's why he is sharing his story.
"Just trying to use it as a platform to reach out to people, and go 'hey it's okay to go in and get checked,'" Malecek said. "It's not a sign of weakness that it can happen to anybody. Even though I had genetics with it, I still think every guy, male or female, work right, eat right, live a stress free life, it still can happen."
When the Maleceks look back on that first weekend in June, they won't count their medals, they'll count their blessings.
"The moments are great. The highs, the lows whatever. But what really is great, is the people that walk this life with us," Kayah-Bah said. "I'll always be grateful."