Congressional candidate saves 77-year-old’s life, new friendship formed

What started out as a fun birthday dinner for a friend, ended in a near death experience for Betty Kabara.

“We were eating and all of a sudden I felt something like completely shut my.. was in my throat. And I couldn’t talk I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t swallow, I couldn’t do anything,” said Kabara.

In the next room over, Derrick Van Orden was attending an event, and knew something wasn’t right.

“I saw one of the folks that came to the event, he was a doctor here locally, moving out with a purpose,” said Van Orden.

He followed suit and took over rescuing Kabara.

“I looked at her and I said Betty… Betty come back to us… come back to us Betty.,” said Van Orden. “And then after I gave her some rescue breaths, she kind of coughed, and I looked at her and her eyes came back, and the life back into her face. It’s absolutely beautiful.”

“And he truly knew how to act in a state of emergency,” said Kabara.

“I said Betty how are you doing? And she said, I’m really thankful to be here. And I looked at her and said, Betty, We’re really thankful that you’re here also,” said Van Orden.

“They were able to finally get me back to breathing,” said Kabara.

Van Orden is a former Navy SEAL, and is currently running as a Republican for Congress in Wisconsin’s 3rd District. Kabara and her late husband have been pivotal in the La Crosse community by making contributions to Gundersen Health System, and have set up an Entrepreneurial Institution at St. Mary’s University in Minnesota.

Two people with a long list of accomplishments, now bonded by a life saving moment.

“We are not officially friends, we have a special relationship,” said Van Orden.

And Van Orden seems to have a new supporter as well.

“I’m wishing with all of my heart that he makes it,” said Kabara.

Kabara and Van Orden had breakfast together on Monday morning, and plan on making it a regular thing to keep their newfound friendship close.