“Parents, never give up. Doctors do the best they can, but they don’t know everything. And do not underestimate God.” –Eileen Hornback


“Stay the course and fight, fight, fight. Don’t give up.”  -Zack Hornback


On this week’s show is Eileen Hornback, the author of the International Best-Seller, Breathe and her son, Zack, Eileen’s inspiration behind the book. Fun fact! Eileen is also de de’s best friend while Eileen’s daughter, Logan starred as the female cover model for Two Degrees One Heart

Today, you will get to know more about Eileen and Zack, and why de de loves them so much. Eileen is a woman of faith and resilience. In 2005, Eileen experienced a parent’s worst nightmare when Zack got into a terrible car accident. Diagnosed with traumatic brain injury, his doctors said that Zack has little to no chance of survival. Follow their story as Eileen relates how she kept her faith through every second of their darkest moments, which is also the theme of her book. Learn real life lessons about being invested in God’s plan, not discounting a person’s faith in the healing process, being advocates for your children’s recovery, and guiding them to make good decisions. Most of the time, we are amazed by what a little prayer can do. Tune in and witness a living miracle with this mother and son duo!



03:59 A Mother’s Worst Nightmare

08:47 Breathe

13:28 The Power of Prayer

18:30 An Unexpected Gift

22:38 The Role Faith Plays

25:47 Never Give Up!

27:28 Stay the Course 



de de’s Books

Two Degree’s Series 

Rescued Heart Series

Eileen’s Book


Witness a living miracle! Join @dedeCox as she sits with her bestie and best-selling author of Breathe, @eileenhornback, and her son, Zack, as they prove how powerful prayer can be. #dedecox #kentuckyromanceauthor #unbriddledcountrytraditions… Click To Tweet



08:26 “God was constantly telling me, ‘Just breathe. I’ve got this. I’m in control, just breathe.’ ”-Eileen Hornback

09:07 “Our life was good and suddenly this tragedy hit us. And I had nowhere to turn to but God, and I had to count on him to get us through every minute. And I couldn’t do that if I was questioning why.” –Eileen Hornback

22:26 “God has such perfect timing. Not our timing, but His timing.” -de de Cox

23:10 “Not everybody is going to have the recovery that Zack did. But if you are invested in God’s plan, you will have joy no matter what the outcome is.”   Eileen Hornback

23:59 “[Do] not discount a person’s faith in the healing process.” –Eileen Hornback

24:22 “Advocate for your child when they’re in the hospital, because you can’t count on all the medical decisions being the best for your child.” –Eileen Hornback

25:58 “Parents, never give up. Doctors do the best they can but they don’t know everything. And do not underestimate God.” –Eileen Hornback

27:38 “Stay the course and fight, fight, fight. Don’t give up.”  -Zack Hornback


Meet Eileen and Zack Hornback:

Eileen is de de’s bestie. They are like two peas in a pod and no matter what you throw at her, she’s got an answer and can do this off the cuff! 


Zack is Eileen’s oldest son, and the reason Eileen wrote her book, Breathe. In 2005, he got into a terrible car accident and suffered from a traumatic brain injury. His doctors said he’s not likely to survive and even if he did, he will not be able to live a normal life. Fifteen years later, Zack breathes every day with gratitude, giving other patients a glimpse of hope. 




de de Cox Hey guys, this is de de Cox, you designated driver. I am your Kentucky Romance Author. And we are Unbridled Country Traditions. Now, here’s the deal. It is like 5:30 6:00, I’m not for sure but I save the best for last. Because I knew that I wanted you guys to see one of the reasons that I actually have written as much as what I had done. When you have a best friend, as you see sitting before me and you have good lord. Always have a good Lord. The dreams, the goals are endless. And she talks me off the ledge when I become all anxiety ridden. So I want to welcome Miss Eileen Hornback. She is the author of Breathe. So welcome.

Eileen Hornback Thank you, But it’d you that often talk me off what’s most–

de de Cox We are talking to each other. Because look, in the mornings, we talk to each other every morning. a we solve the world’s problems. But y’all aren’t listening to us. So my goodness, we’re not for sure what’s going on with that. I don’t know why I don’t want to pay attention to what we’re talking about. But I want to let you guys know how I met her was I’m getting say it was truly God’s divine intervention. And we have been over 10 years, 10 years together. But I immediately want to get to the fact that we went on a cruise together. And I asked her to be my significant other kingdom, I take her husband, I don’t want to take my husband because we wanted to have a great time. So we went together. And I want you to tell everybody what it was like, how I asked you and what it was like being on the cruise with your best friend?

Eileen Hornback Well, we had to plan it to where she gave me a Christmas present that I opened on Christmas morning that said, “Would you please come with me on this cruise?” So therefore you when I’m tearing up and everything. My husband couldn’t say no. Because I did it in front of all the family and they were all thrilled for me. So yeah, it was just a little plant that God planted long before that. So

de de Cox I totally believe. And you know, we’re real brilliant when we come to planning things like this. So this should tell you the relationship that we have. I want you to think about that very first, when we were sitting in the airport, I gave you a video. And I showed you a video and it was one of the girls and it was from Logan. What did Logan tell you on the video?

Eileen Hornback How proud she was of me that I was falling writing a book about her brother and his recovery from traumatic brain injury that I had a great story to tell. And I just needed to relax and let them see me and they would love the story. And that was funny because I was her interview coach in pageants for years and I was always the one telling her that.

de de Cox The tables got turned down when that happens. But I want her to tell you the story of Breathe. Because actually sitting here with us and you can’t see him is the actual individual that the story is about not only is about God, but is about her oldest son. So I want you to tell us why Breathe and who this is about.

Eileen Hornback So our story is about a parent’s worst nightmare. Getting that phone call in the middle of the night saying that your son is in trouble and has been in a car accident and you need to get to the hospital right away. And that was very confusing because Zack had come home early that night. So I thought he should be in bed and all the way driving to the hospital. I keep thinking, you know, Zack came home early. When we got to the hospital, they met us at the door and told us they weren’t sure what other internal injuries he had, but that he had a traumatic brain injury and that they didn’t expect him to live.

de de Cox When you heard that. What did you think? What was that first emotion that went through you?

Eileen Hornback My knees buckled. I collapsed in a chair and started crying. And they left us and let us gain our composure for a minute. My pastor Dave Stone showed up and he prayed with us. So we actually got to have prayer before we laid eyes on Zack. And then they took us back to see him. And you know when you hear your child’s been an accident, you picture broken bones, blood, bruising, cuts, nothing prepares you for a brain injury. He had no injuries below his neck but he had a tube down his throat. He had a gash in his head where he was hit with a guardrail. He had been medicated. And as this drug were off, he would shake uncontrollably. And that was so hard to see, to the point where his dad, who had been in control up to that point driving to the hospital and everything when he saw him and realized that he couldn’t fix him, men are fixers, and he knew he couldn’t fix him. He just turned and started banging his fist against the wall, and then just slid to the floor and was a mess. And I did the only thing I knew to do and that was to pray. And the 23rd Psalm is what came to mind. And I kept praying it over Zack, and repeating, and [inaudible] And it seemed like it was in slow motion. But we were probably only with him a minute or two before they took him away.

de de Cox Yeah. You come to that point realizing that your son may die because of all that they told you. And I want you to tell the audience why Breathe? Why the title Breathe.

“God was constantly telling me, ‘Just breathe. I’ve got this. I’m in control, just breathe.’ ”-Eileen Hornback

Eileen Hornback So they had intubated him which at the scene, which means they put a tube down his throat so he could breathe. And after he had had a surgery to remove his bone flap, so his brain could swell. And he had some other issues going on that had been resolved, they were going to excavate him, pull the tube to see if he could breathe on his own. And it happened that we were in the room. I didn’t know that we were going to be in the room at the time. And the surgeons came in and all these doctors and nurses and the lights were turned up really bright and Scott and I were standing at the foot of the bed. And the neurosurgeon explained to us that when they pulled the tube, Zack had to breathe. And that if he didn’t breathe on his own, we would go through the very traumatic process of re tubing him and that that would not be something that we wanted to see. So a resident on each side, leaned him up, they pulled the tube, and immediately Scott’s turned screaming, breathe, breathe, breathe. And I think the whole room was taken aback, because, you know, they just sit there and wait for the person to breathe. And we weren’t going to let that opportunity go by. And Zack coughed, and started breathing on his own. And that was a time in the hospital that really stood out to my husband. And when I was writing the book, and really didn’t have a name for it yet, that kept coming back. And then I realized throughout my time with Zack at University Hospital, God was constantly telling me, just breathe. I’ve got this. I’m in control, just breathe. And it made sense for the book to be called breathe.

de de Cox Because I know of our background and different things. Did your faith ever waver for you to say, why God? Why Zack?

“Our life was good and suddenly this tragedy hit us. And I had nowhere to turn to but God, and I had to count on him to get us through every minute. And I couldn’t do that if I was questioning why.” –Eileen Hornback

Eileen Hornback It’s kind of strange that it didn’t. I think because it hit us in a time in our life when everything was going so well. All of our kids were doing well. Zack was in a great place in his life. He was an honor roll student, the pitcher of his baseball team, you know. Our life was really good and suddenly this tragedy hits us. And I had nowhere to turn to but God, and I had to count on him to get us through every minute. And I couldn’t do that if I was questioning why. Now, looking back on it now, sometimes I question why he allowed Zack to recover and others don’t. You know why other teenagers with brain injuries die and Zack didn’t.  A little bit of survivor’s guilt. But then I remember that he is the potter and we don’t question which clay he chooses to mold into whatever he chooses. And I have stopped questioning and asking God why did Zack recover and others don’t.

de de Cox I want to bring you, we’ve gone to the hospital and the book is amazing, I got to get the book. And we tell them real quick where they can get the book.

Eileen Hornback You can get it on Amazon. You can get it on Barnes and Noble. And you can go on my website. And also there’s a link there to purchase the book as well. You Google my name or Google Breathe: Surviving the Storm Through the Power of Prayer.

de de Cox Take us to that last day, he’s coming home. And what that day was like knowing that this is it, he’s now not just in the hospitals care and in God’s care, he’s in my care.

Eileen Hornback That was scary. Because I knew when he was at the hospital, and when he was at Frazier rehab that I always had those nurses and the aides and everybody there to call when something happened. And now I knew, I mean, I was scared because I was going to be responsible for taking care of him. Now he came home walking and talking, singing and dancing. He was beyond the medical issues at this point. But he was still on medication that had to be given to him at certain times every day and that was going to be left up to me. And that was scary to think that I was now going to be responsible for seeing him his day to day hour to hour care. But at the hospital the last day. So he left Frazier rehab had to go back to university hospital to have his bone flap put back on. And he was there for several days. And they told us finally that he was going to be released on Sunday, which how perfect is that? And I said, that’s fine. But you have to have this out of here about 10 o’clock, because we’re going to church. And so they came checked us out. We were waiting and waiting and waiting. And every time somebody walked by, I would say we’re going to church, where are you all, and I was about to go get a wheelchair myself. And when they finally came, and it was so exciting when we left the hospital. And sac was so funny because he had been wanting to leave razor for so long. He’d been saying, I want to go home, take me home, take me home, and she can’t go home. And when we finally got in the car and shut the door, he said See how easy it was to leave. Because it was planned. But then as we drive to church and I attend to a very large church, and it has a copper roof with a big cross on it. And I can remember seeing that cross and it was like going to Disneyland, you know, I was so excited. Like, I can see the top of the, you know, the Ferris wheel with them, or the roller coaster and seeing that cross I can remember my heart quickening and knowing that I was going to be walking back into God’s house, amongst his people that had been praying for us for so long. And it was like coming full circle back to the people that had, you know, initially been there all his life.

de de Cox So I want to bring you current, let’s move forward. So tell me, I know, part of the reason that she and I are very close is we are very in community service oriented. We love to give back. We truly believe in the good Lord and all his blessings and all his mercy and His grace. I want you to tell the audience what Zack is now. Who is Zack now.

Eileen Hornback So you can’t really say who Zack is now without saying what they told [inaudible]. You know, we were told that he would never get out of a nursing home. He never spent a day in a nursing home, that he would never walk he would never talk. He would never return to school. He would never have a normal life. He does have a normal life. He has an extra ordinary, grateful life. He not only returned to school, but he graduated from an academically challenging private school. He got his driver’s license, something else they said he’d never be able to drive. He works. He bought his own condo. He has a girlfriend that adores him because that was the other thing. They say that he wouldn’t have normal relationships. He has blown all of those warnings off the chart. And we are now first contact volunteers with the brain injury alliance of Kentucky. So we get phone calls when teenagers have been in an accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury and we go to provide hope and encouragement. And although doctors and nurses may be able to tell them you know, you’ll get through this stage you know, and this is just a phase. It holds a lot more weight when I tell her mother I’ve been there. They told me the same thing. I know what you’re feeling. And they believe me because they know that I walked in their shoes.

de de Cox Is Zach travel with you?

Eileen Hornback Oh, absolutely. Zack, when I call him and say, “We got a phone call. There’s somebody at Frazier that needs to see us. I don’t have the details yet. I just wanted to let you know.” And we’ll hang up. 10 minutes later, he’ll be texting me. “Where are we going?” And I have like, “I don’t have the details yet.” Soon as I know, he is always ready to go and loves going back to both University Hospital and Frazier. Now of course, that’s been very hard with COVID. We’ve done mostly more virtual things. But we have gone down and met with family in the lobby of Frazier rehab and talked to them and Zack loves that. And inevitably when I’m kind of focusing more on the medical aspects of explaining where there are now it is almost always Zack that brings it back to God. And says, “You need to just trust God. You need to pray.” And that always just warms my heart that he has not forgotten. I don’t think he’ll ever forget that he is here because of the prayers of 1000s of people. And he wants to make sure that those people that we talk to understand the power of prayer, hence the subtitle of my book.

de de Cox So I want to ask you, I know that you post low pictures that Zack sends to you, and I want the audience to know what those pictures are. Because you always tell me, you know,  he just sent me this picture. What does he send you?

Eileen Hornback He loves the sunset and the sunrise. Many times he’ll call me and say go outside. And I’m like, What? Go outside, you know, it’ll be freezing cold. Sometimes I’m standing on the front porch, and he wants me to look at the sunrise or something. And he sees things very differently now. You know the stop and smell the roses? Zack stops and smells of roses. He notices the sunsets and sunrises and he appreciates good food even when it’s not very good. He appreciates good food. He appreciates people more, somebody that might do something for him. His gratitude is not fake. It’s very real. I mean, he knows that he was given a second chance in life, and he’s not going to take it for granted.

de de Cox I want to take you into the future because you and I always talk about in it, what we want to do what we want to become and by the way her daughter is on my first book. Logan is on two degrees. Two degrees, one heart, that’s her daughter. So connection is really really deep with in many, many ways and waves. So I know she’s been very supportive of me getting the movies, the two books made into movies. But she also has a huge, huge award that most people don’t realize for a first timer. Let’s call her a newbie. That’s what we call it. She’s a newbie. I want you to tell them why you did what you did with a screencraft with that contest and tell them what’s going on.

Eileen Hornback Well, so I kind of entered this screen craft cinematic book competition.

de de Cox That’s a lot of words to say.

Eileen Hornback I kind of did not win. I wasn’t real hopeful. I had seen some of the past winners and even some of the people that I’m competing against now, you know, they’ve written 11 books, 27 books, you know, they’re well established writers. And this is my first book. And I made the quarterfinals. I was all excited that I made the quarterfinals. And I’m like, you know.

de de Cox And she did that she called me She said, you know, this is what happened every should. I don’t expect anything else. Like, stop.

Eileen Hornback I didn’t expect to go I did this.

de de Cox She said, I’m not gonna go any further. I’m like, here you are. Have a little faith here. And she’s like, no. She said, I just don’t know that I can do this. And then you had to write. what was that thing you had to write to get to that point?

Eileen Hornback Well, no, that’s an another one that is a virtual pitch, which I’m glad that I wrote it because I will be doing that as well. But once I made it past the quarterfinals, and I got notified that I was a semi finalist, I was really excited. And Zach was all excited. And then–

de de Cox Then she said the same thing again, I’m not going to get to–

Eileen Hornback Yeah. I said I’ve reached my goal. I’m not going to go any further. And then just last month, I found out I was a finalist. So it’s been narrowed down for about 1500 books to 50 and yeah, I’m very excited. I’ll find out on March 17 if I have won.

de de Cox On St. Patrick’s Day?

Eileen Hornback Yeah.

de de Cox Now for you, when she did this post, I thought this post was really cool. She said, that’s my top 10 in the pageant and this is where I am. And I was like, Oh, my Lord have mercy. Now, I saw it. I got the email first. And I called her and I said, “Did you see? She’s like, “what?” And I said, “Did you see?” And she was like, Oh, so she got on there. She’s like, Oh, my gosh. And I was like, Oh, my Lord.

Eileen Hornback de de beat me to the bpunch and have posted it first.

de de Cox I was so excited because I had to share this. And she is not going to get to this quick enough. One, she types too slow. Two, she’s at work. Three, I have to share it. She’s made top 10. Holy smokes, you know, so now we wait.

Eileen Hornback Yeah.

de de Cox But the ultimate goal. What’s the ultimate goal?

Eileen Hornback Well, I mean, I’d love to have a feature film. Feature film. Yes.

de de Cox We’re learning all the lingo. I’ve had this work.

Eileen Hornback Because I have a great story. God just totally picked me to write it. And I think it gives hope and encouragement to people in a time where there’s not a lot of hope out there. People are desperate for good stories and I think that I have a true story with a great message that I think people need to hear.

de de Cox Yeah. People tell us all the time, there are. Michael always says there’s millions of writers. There are millions of writers. But there is also a message that somebody that may not know him that message, you know. I know that some folks who are probably watching may not believe, we believe, we know that he exists. I personally think you know that he had that plan for she and I. She was with me. I was working with her children and my son had a very serious bike accident.

Eileen Hornback Showing off for my daughter.

“God has such perfect timing. Not our timing, but His timing.” -de de Cox

de de Cox So there you go. But she was with me, and she knew exactly what to do. And I think God has such perfect timing, not our time. But His timing. And I want you to tell me, you know, we always get that little petty pageant question, you know, where do you see five years with the book with you, with Zack, where do you want to be within five years?

“Not everybody is going to have the recovery that Zack did. But if you are invested in God’s plan, you will have joy no matter what the outcome is.”   Eileen Hornback

“Advocate for your child when they’re in the hospital, because you can’t count on all the medical decisions being the best for your child.” –Eileen Hornback

Eileen Hornback It’s funny, because his speech therapist read it and said that she wants this to become the brain injury handbook for parents to read and see that the struggles that your child goes through should make you look at that child in a completely different way not see their deficits, but see how strong they are. See how much they’ve overcome. And, you know, I also want people to recognize that not everybody is going to have the recovery that Zack did. He is one of the millions we’ve been told that multiple doctors and a lot of people with traumatic brain injuries aren’t going to get to where he’s that. But if you are invested in God’s plan, if you trust God, you will have joy no matter what the outcome is, because you believe that that’s part of God’s plan. And I hope people keep asking me, you know, when are you going to write another book, and I have no idea about writing another book. But I do want to speak to audiences, multiple audiences, I’d like to speak to healthcare workers about not discounting a person’s faith in the healing process. I’d like to talk to teenagers about making good decisions because Zack snuck out of the house, went for a ride, got in a car accident, had a traumatic brain injury. You know, I’d like to talk to teenagers about that. And I’d like to talk to other parents about being an advocate for their child when they’re in the hospital because you can’t count on all the medical decisions being the best for your child. I mean, there were times when I insisted on a second opinion, and I was right to insist upon a second opinion. And particularly with traumatic brain injury, everybody is different. Not everybody responds the same way, and had not been so involved in Zach’s recovery, I probably would not have done some of the things that we did and his outcome could have been different.

 “[Do] not discount a person’s faith in the healing process.” –Eileen Hornback

de de Cox I want to tell you guys something before we close. We’re like twins–

Eileen Hornback From different mothers.

de de Cox From different mothers. We both have the same thoughts about our family, we both have those values about our family. And I have found great support with her friendship and different things. If you could give one piece of advice to a mom that is going through this right now, what you have been talking about, what would you tell that mom or that dad? You know, because most people say, you know, lean on the Lord. Well, we do lean on the Lord, but But what would you say, to maybe give them a bit of hope. We all need hope. What would you give them just to say just a little bit of hope.

“Parents, never give up. Doctors do the best they can but they don’t know everything. And do not underestimate God.” –Eileen Hornback

Eileen Hornback One, I would say never give up. I was told Zack would never walk or talk again. And obviously, they were wrong. So I would tell parents never give up. Don’t think that the doctors know everything. They do the best they can. But they don’t know everything. But probably not to underestimate God. Our prayers are too small. And we need to trust that his plan is perfect. And the only way to do that is to be with Him every day, every hour counting on him. That’s the only way you’re going to learn to trust and his plan is if you’re there with him every day. You can’t just wait until when it’s a really bad day. It has to be their bad days, good days, every day, praising him for each step forward and asking him to carry you when the steps code in reverse, which with brain injury happens a lot.

de de Cox So I know that we have brought Zack in. Zack is the oldest son of Eileen. This is who the book is about. And I want to ask you, you know, I love your mom, you love your mom, you know that that’s just inevitable. But I want you to say something, you know, to that mother to that father to the sibling, because I know your siblings went through a lot. And they were very unsure of the outcome. What would you tell someone? What would you say to somebody to say it’s, you know, I’ve gone through it, I’m here, you know, reach out to my mom and I will be able to help you. What would you do?

“Stay the course and fight, fight, fight. Don’t give up.”  -Zack Hornback

Zack Hornback Well, one reason I know that I had a really good recovery and been blessed with where I am right now is because I kept being motivated to stay the course and fight, fight, fight. Don’t give up. And I was blessed.

de de Cox  I know that your mom stayed the course is that was something she was considering actually naming the book. So when you say stay the course, do you mean have that determination that no matter what they say, to just continue to fight as much as you can?

Zack Hornback Yeah. Never give up. Never give up.

de de Cox If you could say when they do Mama, is that so as a mom, what would you say to your mom?

Zack Hornback I love you.

Eileen Hornback That was a good one.

de de Cox Yeah.

Eileen Hornback I’ll take that.

de de Cox Yeah. And I love her too. And I know that you, you will love the book. She is the epitome of strength. She is like when I when I’m losing my OCD and my ADD kick and I call her you know, that tends to drive her just a little bit bonkers too.

Eileen Hornback Particularly a mouse de de is on

de de Cox Yeah. That was together. That’s a lethal combination. So but I want you guys to follow her. I want you to check the book out. And I want you to know that it’s real. It’s him. It’s right there. It’s what the book is about. It’s Breathe. It’s about the recovery of a traumatic brain injury through Zack Hornback and through the power of prayer. We are–

Eileen Hornback God’s the hero. I just wrote the book. And he loved it.

de de Cox Thank you guys. Like I said, I saved the best for last. She’s my best in the whole wide world. And you know he’s really cool too. I kind of like him too. You know, he’s kind of cute. So but anyway, this is de de Cox, your Kentucky Romance Author. We are the unbridled Country Traditions. God bless.