BUFFALO, NY — After the Pegula family kept the health information of Kim Pegula, co-owner of Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabers, secret for over eight months, Jessica Pegula announced Tuesday that her mother suffered cardiac arrest in June 2022 and is still recovering recover
Kim Pegula continues to improve every day but is “struggling with significant expressive aphasia and memory problems,” and while she continues to work hard on her recovery, “it’s still unknown where she ends up,” Jessica Pegula wrote in an essay for The Players’ Tribune, which was published on Tuesday. She shared that her mother most likely won’t be able to return to her roles the way she was.
“She can read, write and understand fairly well but is struggling to find the right words to respond to,” wrote Jessica Pegula, the world No. 4 tennis player. “It’s hard to deal with and it takes a lot of patience to communicate with her, but I thank God every day that we can still communicate with her at all. Doctors remain blown away by her recovery considering where it started, and her determination is the driving force behind it.”
Kim Pegula, 53, is President and CEO of Pegula Sports and Entertainment and President and co-owner of Bills and Sabers. She is the first woman to be named president of an NFL and NHL team. The Pegulas have five children including Jessica, Kelly, Matthew, Michael and Laura.
Kim Pegula is an advocate for diversity in both the NFL and NHL and has served on the NFL Workplace Diversity Committee. Pegula has served on the NFL Super Bowl and Major Events Advisory Committee, the Business Operations Committee, and the NFL Foundation Committee, and has also served as co-chair of the NHL’s Executive Inclusion Council.
“She was the woman behind my father’s success and my father would love to admit that. She has embarked on this journey with him, learning many lessons and overcoming many barriers along the way,” Jessica Pegula wrote. “She was the culture change, the positivity and the heartbeat of many employees. She gave everyone so much time and effort. She lived it and loved it, and everyone she met felt it. Now we come to the realization that all of that is most likely gone. That she can’t be that person anymore.”
Jessica Pegula, 28, shared that her mother was asleep when her father, Bills and Sabers co-owner Terry Pegula, woke up when his wife went into cardiac arrest and that she was unresponsive for a while.
Kelly Pegula gave her mother CPR until an ambulance could arrive. Kelly Pegula had only taken a CPR class about three months earlier as part of a requirement for a job she wanted.
“I remember [Kelly Pegula] told us what she was doing in our family group chat and my mum even replied, ‘Nice Kells! Now if we have a heart attack you can revive us,” Jessica Pegula wrote.
She wrote that around midnight on June 7, her mother’s birthday, she received her sister’s call about the situation.
The family was in the hospital for about two weeks and stayed with her. After about a week, Kim Pegula was transferred from the intensive care unit to an inpatient care facility and she was conscious and able to speak somewhat.
“After a long two weeks she was in good shape to begin what we knew would take a very, very long time to recover,” Jessica Pegula wrote. “Three of my best friends are doctors and after the situation calmed down they told me it was a miracle she was even on the road to recovery like every other doctor who worked with her.”
Bill’s safety Damar Hamlin also suffered cardiac arrest in the first quarter of the team’s regular season game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Jan. 2 and continues to improve on his own path of recovery. He recently spoke in a video thanking everyone for their support. During the 2023 Australian Open, Jessica Pegula, then No. 3, wore the No. 3 patch for both Hamlin and her mother, she wrote.
Jessica Pegula shared that her mother, who “loved to work,” always wanted her to be a part of running the Bills and Sabers and eventually took over after her tennis career ended. In January, the Sabers hired John Roth as chief operating officer to handle day-to-day operations.
It’s been a difficult year for the private family to go through something like this publicly, but they thanked the Buffalo community for their patience, for continuing to respect the family’s privacy, and for all of their support.
“It’s been a tough year, but at the same time I feel fortunate and blessed. I’m grateful she’s still with us when other families may not have been so lucky,” she wrote. “That she even had a chance at recovery when the first week in the hospital seemed so bleak. Grateful for the doctors who helped in her recovery. Grateful that she’s home now, that she can see the Bills, Sabers and my tennis matches. She has never seen my matches because she got too nervous. Now she’s looking at everyone.”
https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/35607738/jessica-pegula-mom-kim-pegula-went-cardiac-arrest-2022 Jessica Pegula – Mom Kim Pegula went into cardiac arrest in 2022