On Dec. 1, Brandon Glova, a.k.a. DJ Bonics, didn't think he was at risk for a heart attack. The 30-year-old touring DJ for Wiz Khalifa and former KISS-FM afternoon host was at home in Pittsburgh between touring trips. The next day, he woke with unbearable chest pains. He went to an urgent-care clinic, and was rushed to St. Clair Hospital, where he learned he had a completely blocked artery.
"You may start thinking about that later in life, but at 30, you don't think about being at risk for heart disease," Glova says. "I'm not a model of health by any means, but that definitely took me by surprise."
Glova was released from the hospital after four days and a minimally invasive procedure; a week later, he was performing with Khalifa on BET's 106 & Park. It was a whirlwind end to a year that's already brought big changes for Glova.
Starting the year as a full-time DJ at KISS-FM, he left his job in June to play club shows and tour with Khalifa. (He remains part time at KISS and doesn't plan to leave anytime soon.) As Khalifa's single "Black and Yellow" climbed the charts, Glova -- who was booking shows at Pitt when he first worked with then-15-year-old Khalifa -- gained popularity nationwide.
A heart attack might slow others down, but after leaving the hospital, Glova decided to make something positive of the experience. Beyond cleaning up his own diet, he plans to use his celebrity to raise awareness about heart disease.
"I wrote [a blog post], and it's already started to change people. I go on tour, I make all these fans based on what I was doing, and then this happens," Glova says. "And my 7,000 followers on Twitter and on Facebook hear about it, and all of a sudden you've got people in Canada and Cali and Vegas and Texas who say, 'Yo, bro, you've made me think about my health.'"
Glova is currently uninsured, leaving him with mounting bills. Some fellow DJs approached him about putting together a benefit for him (Wed., Dec. 22 at S Bar) and a fundraising website (iheartbonics.blogspot.com). But he agreed to participate only if they'd make the event a fundraiser for the American Heart Association and St. Clair Hospital, and raise awareness for heart health.
"A former me might have worried about [the money], but post-heart attack -- I know it's gonna work out," Glova says. "It can't be worse than a heart attack."