22 Nov HeartSmart EKG Closing Notice
It has been our painful privilege to lead the foundation we started at Max’s death in 2005. In the beginning, we madethe concept of making a difference in his name crystalized into two paths: conservation and cardiac causes. We started small, made connections, grew in skill and scope. Many times we were told and believed how proud Max would have been of all our efforts. You could almost feel his hand guiding the selection of animals the foundation donated to the Wildlife Discovery Center. Sense him walking beside you through the wild prairie garden, past his memorial stone to the education circle of rock seats where many students became acquainted with the animals he loved. We often wonder what Max’s life would be like today.
Our cardiac testing has spared many other parents from asking that same question. By 2006 we raised enough money to bring EKG screening to the students of Max’s alma mater, Lake Forest High School. I’m proud to say that volunteers from that first screening year are still with the Foundation. Our growth trajectory began with family and friends fundraising, creative management, and an unwavering focus on providing cardiac screening to young adults. Our mission was embraced by the communities, supported by the schools, and widely recognized for its life-saving benefit to young adults. This year we reached a huge milestone when we provide our 100,000th EKG test in Max’s name.
This past May, Max would have celebrated his 37th birthday. To us, he remains the boundlessly energetic 20 year old he was when he died. But in the intervening 17 years we have aged and the Foundation’s been impacted by global factors. Our core staff are working past their desired retirement age, Covid has severely restricted our ability to serve students in the school, and we face the unfortunate confluence of increased cost and reduced income.
We are not alone in facing these challenges, but that doesn’t lessen the sadness we feel when we realize the Foundation’s screening program needs to wind down. In the spirit of never say never, we will continue to look for partnerships and avenues to transfer our mission to others. Our last cardiac testing will be in November of 2023. That seems a long way away, but it allowed us to provide one more year of cardiac screening before the hard-stop date related to an enormously expensive software update. It also allows us to say good bye to our many staff and supporters in person. As with the loss of Max, we are sad beyond belief, but proud and glad for the time we spent together making a difference in his name.
Mary Beth Schewitz