Editor's note: In honor of Father’s Day, the Deseret News talked to several noteworthy members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints about their fathers.
It was on a river rafting trip as a young man that Kirby Heyborne gained a greater appreciation for his father.
Heyborne, an actor, singer/songwriter, narrator and comedian, recalls traveling with his father, Bruce, and other youths from their Sandy neighborhood to visit Teton National Park and float down the Snake River.
That summer, the water level on the Snake River was high and the current flowed fast over famous Class-IV rapids like "Lunch Counter" and "Big Kahuna," Heyborne said.
As their raft approached the whitewater rapids, Heyborne, then a "skinny, 100-pound 12-year-old," admitted he was probably having too much fun.
"I was trying to show off for the young women and show how brave I was," he said. "I asked if I could ride at the front of the boat."
The guide granted permission but warned Heyborne to be aware of some upcoming turbulence and rocks.
Shortly after moving to the bow of the raft, Heyborne was dangling his legs over the front of the raft as it slammed into one of the big rapids. The momentum bounced the back-end of the raft to an almost vertical position above the water, making it easy for Heyborne to slip into the river and under the boat when it crashed back down.
"I was under there for about 10 seconds, can't breath, panicking, terrified I'm going to die," Heyborne said. "Then a hand reaches down, grabs my life preserver and pulls me back into the boat. It was my dad."
Heyborne's first reaction to the incident was one of embarrassment, and he wasn't so eager to impress the girls anymore. In later years, his father confessed he was terrified and that he thought "his son was a goner." In the end, Heyborne came away with a greater appreciation for his father.
"What I learned is no matter what dumb things I do in my life, my dad is there to grab and get me in the right place," said Heyborne, whose father just celebrated his 65th birthday. "It doesn’t mean I’m not going to experience some bad moments, or pay for dumb mistakes I've made, but he is there to grab hold of me, if I let him, and he’ll pull me back in. He has always been there like that. I love him."
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