Mary Beth Schewitz
The Max Schewitz Foundation
Lake Bluff, Illinois
Mary Beth Schewitz would love to be out of a job. As executive director of The Max Schewitz Foundation, her goal is to make EKG testing standard care for young adults in the United States. If that had been the case on September 29, 2005, her son might still be alive.
Max, a healthy, fun-loving 20-year-old, had spent the morning helping his mom move furniture for a garage sale. He then headed to work at a wildlife discovery center. Minutes later, Mary Beth's husband, David, called to say Max had collapsed at work and was en route to the hospital. By the time she arrived there moments later, Max had died of sudden cardiac death.
"When I learned that an EKG test--which is not expensive or invasive--might have identified a hidden cardiac condition in my son, it was too late for Max, but I knew there were other young adults out there who, like him, had no idea they harbored a potentially life-threatening condition," Mary Beth says.
Since 2006, her organization's Screens for Teens has provided free EKGs to 12,200 area high school students. It also supports education about wildlife, a passion of Max's. A highlight for Mary Beth was when an at-risk student at one of the schools told her he wanted to become a cardiologist.
When EKG testing for teens becomes standard, Mary Beth--an equestrian and children's writer--will return to the activities she loves. Until that happens, she will not lose heart.