HOUSTON -

A young man who collapsed while jogging has been given a chance to personally thank the people who saved his life.

He thought he was perfectly healthy as he was running near the Houston Museum of Natural Science.  But moments later, he was on the ground.  A hero found him and said there was no sign of life.

When Jonathan Ruppert was running in the Museum District about a month ago, something went wrong. He suddenly collapsed.

"Not everyone gets to survive from a cardiac arrest and given a second chance at life," Ruppert said.

"Didn't have a pulse.  Didn't have any kind of vital signs.  He was already gone," said Staff Sergeant Robert Niter with the U.S. Air Force.

Niter and his girlfriend were driving by and saw Ruppert had collapsed.  He knew he had to help by giving CPR.

"He wasn't supposed to go that day.  He has a purpose in life that he has.  He wasn't destined to die that day.  That's how I feel.  We were just vessels in the right place in the right time," Niter said.

Others called 911.  The Houston Fire Department arrived and began giving advanced life-saving care.

"I have children who are his age so to be in that situation it's a little bit more personal because I'm looking at it from the perspective of a parent," said firefighter/paramedic Shelby Walker, Jr.

Ruppert, 23, spent 12 days in the hospital.  He had thickening of the heart muscle.  Now he has a pacemaker and an internal defibrillator.

"God has given my son a second chance.  He will be able to have a family, he will be able to live a normal life.  All because of these heroes here today," said his mother Loreley Ruppert.

"I just think they're all heroes because they gave me back to the community," Jonathan Ruppert said.

If there is another problem, he says the defibrillator will kick in and save his life.