Paul Schnarr calls them his bonus years.

In the past 10 years, the Conestogo man has watched his daughters grow from teenagers into young women. He’s walked one of them down the aisle. He’s become a grandfather.

What he hasn’t done is play hockey. It’s the first time in his life he’s spent that long off the ice.

But given the alternative, he wouldn’t trade the past decade for anything.

“I would’ve missed out on so many things,” he says.

On Oct. 2, 2007, Schnarr was playing in the first game of the season for his recreational hockey team.

Late in the game, he suffered a heart attack and collapsed.

Two of his teammates rushed over and started performing CPR. A third went for the arena’s automated external defibrillator.

At the time, AEDs weren’t nearly as common as they are now. RIM Park was one of the few places in Waterloo Region to have one – it had only been installed a few weeks earlier – and Schnarr was the first person to have one used on him within the region.

“I was so fortunate that it happened where it did happen,” Schnarr says.

“They … attached it to me and shocked my heart back to an effective rhythm.”

Still unconscious, Schnarr was taken to the hospital. He spent several days in a coma, but eventually emerged alive.

Since then, Schnarr has been a prominent advocate for increasing the availability of AEDs in public spaces. Waterloo Region now has 430 of the devices in operation.

He hasn’t laced up his skates, and he admits that he misses the camaraderie of the local oldtimers’ hockey scene.

Of course, he has special memories of the teammates who helped save his life. Every year, he says, he sends two of them fruit baskets “just to let them know I’m still kicking.”

“Those two guys are my heroes,” he says.

“Without them, I don’t know if I would be here.”

With reporting by Stu Gooden