Mary Beth Schewitz and her husband, David, endured the tragic loss of their son, Max, a seemingly healthy 20-year-old, from sudden cardiac death in 2005. He had no previous medical conditions or warning signs. Following this, Mary Beth established The Max Schewitz Foundation to provide free school-wide EKG screenings with free echo-cardiograms for a subset of those students through a program coined Screens for Teens. The screening program has provided nearly 45,000 EKG tests and 438 free echo-cardiograms to students of north suburban Chicago high schools and colleges, resulting in 838 students needing further medical evaluation due to a discovered abnormality.
This is just a small snapshot of the wonderful work Mary Beth and her loyal volunteers are doing. On June 17, 2014, Direct Energy and media partner, Tribune Media Group, celebrated Mary Beth’s dedication to preventing sudden cardiac death and other heart conditions in young adults by honoring her as the 2014 Chicago Volunteer Citizen of the Year. Family and friends, representatives from Direct Energy and Tribune Media Group, as well as Illinois State Senator Julie Morrison gathered to celebrate this event at Elawa Farm – the natural preserve where Max spent his days working.
Several individuals talked about how their children were tested through Screens for Teens, while others shared stories of those who had an abnormality discovered. It was remarkable to hear about the direct results of Mary Beth’s work on such a personal level.
Direct Energy presented Mary Beth with a $5,000 donation to The Max Schewitz Foundation, which will be used to help offset the cost of another portable ultrasound machine to provide more free echo-cardiograms at each test site.
Later, an Elawa Farm representative and two workers stopped by with a small screech owl and lizard to say hello to the event attendees, followed by a moving speech from Max’s mentor at the farm. It was a wonderful event honoring a young man who passed much too soon and the work his parents are doing on his behalf in the Chicago area.
This post was written by Andrea Romo, External Relations Specialist for Direct Energy.