SALT LAKE CITY -- Riding a bicycle from coast to coast, a total of 3,171 miles, is quite an accomplishment, but doing so with 16 stents in your heart and a pacemaker defibrillator is something else.
Roy resident Bob Quick, 54, and his son Conrad just completed that journey and friends, family and those who saved his life nine years ago cheered, cried and waved large signs to welcome him home at the Salt Lake International Airport Friday night.
Salt Lake Fire Department 254 brought in the plane with its largest trucks, lights and sirens and then Bob and Conrad were greeted as they got off the plane by his wife Julie and his children at the gate. Bob and Julie walked arm in arm as he greeted a full crowd outside the security gates.
Bob rushed from person to person, giving big hugs and lifting people off the ground. "We did it!" he exclaimed. "We made history."
Bob embraced his team that has been with him for his entire nine-year journey since his first attack - emergency responders Troy and Marla Easton and Roy Fire Chief Jason Poulsen.
Troy Easton was the first emergency help on the scene when Quick had his first attack. Easton essentially brought him back to life and then told him if he didn't change his lifestyle he wouldn't survive another heart attack. Easton and his wife, Marla, a fire captain for the Roy Fire Department, have helped Quick stay on track for all these years as he has had other heart issues.
"Bob was always so grateful. He would come to the firehouse and mow the lawn and make us dinners. We just knew we didn't want to lose him, but he knew it too," Troy Easton said. "Who would have known he would make this type of change?" he said as he motioned to Bob reuniting with the crowd.
The Eastons, along with Poulsen, helped Quick stay on track through his coast-to-coast journey that started 90 days ago. Marla Easton and Poulsen worked with fire stations across the country to set up nightly stays for Bob and Conrad, and the trio also tracked his statistics to make sure he was staying healthy, eating properly and not losing weight.
"We had to remind him he needed to eat his bananas," Troy Easton said with a laugh. Quick also worked with the staff at McKay-Dee Hospital to make sure he was taking care of himself too. Conrad also kept track of his dad and the two provided inspiration for each other to keep going.
"I feel great. My heart screwed up about three times, but we stopped and rested," Bob Quick said. Both said the best part of the journey was the bond the two formed with each other. "Doing it with my son and proving to America that I could do this," Bob said of his trip.
"I made one promise and that was to take care of my dad and he looks the exact same as when he left," Conrad said. He added that he knows his dad may be living on "borrowed time" and he was so thrilled to be able to spend that time with him.
"He raised me for 18 years, the least I can do is give him three months," Conrad said.
Both showed off bigger muscles and were happy to announce that neither had lost weight, but only gained muscle.
Because of Bob's outgoing personality, he had friends from every facet of life there to greet him Friday night. People he worked out with at the gym, people from his LDS Church ward and some other patients he met during hospital stays all came with signs to show support.
Bowen Gines, Bob's LDS Elders Quorum president, updated his website every day and helped set up media visits in nearly every stop across the many cities where the Quicks stayed. He also tracked the money Quick was trying to raise as part of his journey.
Quick said he plans to raise $1million to donate to non-profit groups locally and nationally. He admits he didn't come close, but also said that he fully intends to raise all that money eventually.
"That's what's next for me," Quick said. "Let's not make this a wasted three months."
For a recap on the trip or to donate, visit www.bobquicksjourney.com.