Carly Fonda was playing in a Saturday basketball tournament just two weeks ago at Floyd Central High School when everything went wrong.

The fifth grader had the game of her career, and her team was soon scheduled to be back out on the court for another one.

“I felt pretty good through the first half,” she said. “And then, it was the third quarter, and I was not feeling very well.”

Carly asked her coach to come off the court. She couldn't breathe.

“He thought I was just messing around, and I fell out of my chair,” she said.

Her heart suddenly stopped beating.

“They were just like ‘She's having a seizure,’" Carly remembers. "And then they checked my pulse, and I did not have one.”

A group of strangers in the crowd jumped into action. A nurse and a firefighter were among them, and they called for an AED shock to revive her.

“I can't thank them enough," Carly said. "I don't know what to do. We can't find them, but I really just want to say thank you.”

With mom and dad close by Friday, Carly was reunited with two of her guardian angels.

“We always say her angels came out and took care of business,” said Beth Fonda, Carly's mother. “So thank you all so much.”

"You guys did not know me a lot, but you helped save my life,” Carly said to nurse Karrie Gricius and firefighter, James Richey. “I just can't explain it."

Carly and her family said they can't express enough gratitude for everyone who helped save her life, which led to a diagnosis of a rare heart defect then open-heart surgery.

It’s ”extremely [rare] from what I understand,” Gricius said. “It's less than 10 percent that have this genetic anomaly, and the mortality rate is extremely high as well.”

Fonda is expected to make a full recovery, and eventually get back up to playing the game she loves. 

“Your incident actually is probably going to end up saving a lot more lives,” Richey told Carly. “There are several organizations that are actually purchasing AED’s that never had them because this was a big eye opener for them.”

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