Dot Cofer says it's no wonder she took a break from planning the 34th annual McDuffie County Health Fair.
Technically speaking, she said, she died.
"Since my heart attack was such a close call, I feel like God has something planned for me, and I'm so excited about the future."
Despite that setback, Cofer is back in charge of the half-day of screenings, set for 8 a.m. to noon April 16 at Thomson High School.
Most screenings are free. Fees apply to blood tests.
Cofer said she started the fair while she was with the extension service.
"It started out at a drive-in window at one of the banks and we ran electricity out there and it was very meager, just blood pressure and a computerized heart risk program," she said.
"We only had 78 people at that first one. I even invited the Thomson High School band to play, thinking that their mommas would bring them and that would get someone to my health fair, and that's about the way it was."
Now the event draws about 550 people each year, she said. It has outgrown three venues and now uses the high school because of the capacity and the air conditioning.
"Most people come for the blood work because you can't get much blood work for like 50 or 55 dollars," she said.
She said the health fair will use Mullins Laboratory in Augusta, which has given the health fair a generous group rate.
"This would not be possible if it were not for the donors that give food and donations to pay for expenses," Cofer said. "It's just the whole town of Thomson comes together for this.
"A committee gets food donations, and they're just asking everybody in town. Everybody so far has said they would donate some. Everybody in town is helping out one way or another."
She thanked Beggs Funeral Home for donating the fliers, which can be found in store windows and on restaurant counters around Thomson.
"It's such a humongous thing and I could not do it by myself, especially since I've had my heart attack," Cofer said.
Cofer, an extension home economist and 4-H director for 30 years before retiring in 1996, has continued to organize the health fair in retirement. She also has been a substitute teacher.
She said she suffered her heart attack Feb. 18 and was in the hospital two weeks.
The featured speaker, who will appear about 10:30 a.m., is Dr. Mac Andrew Bowman, a cardiologist with Augusta Heart Associates, University Health Care System.
"He is a hometown boy, a football star, and his family was just very loved in this community," Cofer said. "He became a top-notch cardiologist, and he's known nationally."
Bowman will discuss women's heart health, and Cofer says her own experience is a lesson for those who think they are not vulnerable to heart problems.
"I was doing the right things, taking the right heart medicine, trying to watch my diet, but it just happened," Cofer said.
Anyone who is planning to have blood drawn for blood chemistry analysis is instructed to not eat eight to 12 hours before coming to the health fair.
The many screenings will include height/weight analysis, blood pressure, body mass index, diabetes, anemia, pulmonary function, skin cancer, bone density, vision, hearing, dental and depression. A full list is available on the fliers.
More than 40 educational exhibits will include personal safety, stress prevention, fire safety, cancer detection, burn treatment and radon testing.