History

Max Schewitz Foundation’s Mission

 

The Max Schewitz Foundation is a nonprofit 501c(3) (ID 20-4855141), charitable foundation started by Max’s family and friends after Max died from a sudden cardiac arrhythmia at the age of 20 in 2005. The Foundation has dual missions:

  • To support the education, prevention and research of sudden cardiac death in young people.
  • To support environmental conservation, a lifelong interest of Max’s, through education and conservation of fragile and threatened reptile ecosystems and species.

Key Accomplishments

The Foundation was incorporated in May 2006 with the goal of providing free EKG (also known as an ECG) testing to Chicago-area high school and college students.   In September 2015, we implemented our low cost screening program.

To date, we have provided over 90,000 EKG screenings and more than 2,500 limited echocardiograms to local young adults at suburban high schools, colleges, and sports clubs.  Screening includes an EKG for all registered students as well as an echocardiogram and blood pressure check for those selected for further testing by the program cardiologists.

At each school, students were identified that had previously undiagnosed and potentially life-threatening underlying cardiac conditions.  Over 900 students were identified with an abnormality that required further evaluation.  While, we do not follow students after referral for follow-up care, many contact us.  Notable outcomes are three students who required open heart surgery, two confirmed HCM, one previously undiagnosed dextrocardia, and numerous students with Long QT. Typically, we identify 1 WPW in every 425 students tested.

Instructed over 28,000 households the correct response to witnessed cardiac arrest.  In conjunction with Lake Forest High School students and Dr. Raul Gazmuri of Rosalind Franklin University, we developed the CPR Hero video and companion bookmark which provides response steps to lay first-responders for an adult victim of cardiac arrest.  View and download the CPR Hero video.

Engaged physicians:  We distributed journal references, assessment and billing tools, and the CPR Hero bookmark to approximately 1,600 north suburban Chicago physicians who treat young adults encouraging their use of EKG testing for this population.  We subsidized tuition for seven physicians to enhance their skills in interpreting young adult EKG screenings.  We’ve also networked with other organizations to help them implement cardiac screening programs.

Raised awareness of Sudden Cardiac Death:  Mary Beth Schewitz was selected as a Woman of Influence by the Chicago Business Journal and Bizwomen (10/2019), Interviewed on the WGN Radio Chicago Steve Cochran Show (October 2018 and 2019), Featured on the Today Show (June 2014) as the winner of the Cetaphil Gentle Yet Strong Woman contest; Selected as the 2014 Chicago Volunteer Citizen of the Year sponsored by Tribune Media Group and Direct Energy; Recognized as a Breakthrough Woman on CNN/Headline News (11/2011, 3/2012); Traditional Home Magazine, (11/2010) honored Mary Beth Schewitz as one of their six Classic Women Honorees for her community service. Real Simple Magazine (4/2010) featured our Foundation’s work and People Magazine and Major League Baseball selected the Max Schewitz Foundation as a finalist to represent the Chicago Cubs in their 2010 All Stars Among Us Contest.  We were interviewed on WLS-Channel 7 and Watch312.com (Fall, 2011).  All of these activities have enhanced the awareness of sudden cardiac death in Young adults to large audiences.  We have also handed out literature at the Bears Ultimate Tailgate Parties.

Recognized locally for Sudden Cardiac Death prevention:  In February of 2007, Illinois Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn presented the Foundation a Heart Saver Hero Award for our efforts to bring an AED to the Wildlife Discovery Center.

Supported local conservation: We have provided grants to Lake Forest’s Wildlife Discovery Center for the purchase of rare Australian Knob Tailed Geckos, a Saltwater Crocodile named Maximus and a permanent exhibit space for Maximus.  We planted a native prairie flower demonstration garden with an outdoor tortoise basking enclosure at Elawa Farm.  We funded research to determine the census of reptile species on the Middlefork Savanna.

Key Partners:  Chicago Bears, Josh Church Foundation, Lake Forest Sportscars, WCCF Kai Lermer Foundation, Wildlife Discovery Center, Medline.