Max Schewitz Foundation's Mission

The Max Schewitz Foundation is a nonprofit (ID 20-4855141), grant-making 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 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.
  • Provided over 60,000 EKG tests to area young adults:  Through Screens for Teens High School Cardiac Screening and our Heart Smart Cardiac Screening, we have provided over 60,000 EKG screenings to local young adults at north suburban high schools, colleges, and sports clubs. Screening includes a cardiac health history and EKG for all as well as an echocardiogram and blood pressure check for those selected by the program cardiologists.
  • Students were identified at each school that had important, previously undiagnosed and often life-threatening cardiac disease. 1070 students with an abnormality that required further evaluation.  Of these, 1,000 students were cleared by free on-site echocardiograms during testing. 1,300 students were referred to specialists for further medical evaluations. We do not follow students after referral for follow-up care, but many contact us. Notable among 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 350-500 students tested.
  • Consistently reached fundraising goals each year. Through the Maxtravaganza, the sole fundraiser for the Foundation, we have always reached our fundraising goals which supports our all of our cardiac and conservation activities.
  • Taught 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:  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.  Sponsored tuition for seven physicians to enhance their skills in interpreting young adult EKG screenings. Networked with other organizations to help them implement cardiac screening programs.
  • Raised awareness of Sudden Cardiac Death: 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; presented 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 brought awareness of sudden cardiac death to a large audience. We also handout literature at the Bears Ultimate Tailgate Parties.
  • Supported local conservation:  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.  Planted a native prairie flower demonstration garden with an outdoor tortoise basking enclosure at Elawa Farm. Funded research to determine the census of reptile species on the Middlefork Savanna.
  • Recognized locally for SCD 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.
  • Key Partners: Chicago Bears, Lake Forest Sportscars, Wildlife Discovery Center, Medline
  • Student Ambassadors Program: In February 2013, the Foundation launched a student ambassador program aimed at raising awareness on a peer-to-peer basis. The ambassadors work along with the school administrators and are supported by Foundation leaders to increase awareness of and participation in the Screens for Teens program within the student population.