Students in Illinois getting free EKG testing at school

A mother who lost her son at the young age of just 20 to a heart attack, launched a program to help high school kids get free EKG tests done at school to uncover hidden heart problems. Now, a Racine family who experienced the same loss, is hoping to start a similar program across the border in Wisconsin.

20-year-old Max Schewitz helped his mom move furniture at her Illinois home, went back to work, and collapsed and died of a heart attack. Max's mom, driven to prevent other children from suffering heart attacks and losing their lives at such a young age, raised money through a foundation named in honor of her son, to purchase portable EKG machines for suburban Chicago high schools. These machines allow kids to be tested, and any sort of heart problems to be uncovered before it's too late.

Through the program, volunteer parents learn how to place the electrodes and administer the tests free of charge to any student who'd like one. Mary Beth Schewitz says she knows her son Max might still be alive today, had a test like this been performed. Mary Beth and the Max Schewitz Foundation estimate 30 kids each week across the country die - kids who never knew they had heart problems.

Dillon Mahoney was young, outwardly healthy and athletic. On April 28th, 2001, Dillon was playing basketball and suffered a heart attack, collapsing at a friend's home. Paramedics revived Dillon with a defibrillator, but he remained in a vegetative state for 10 years, before passing away in August 2011. Dillon's family is from Racine, and they're hoping to bring this EKG technology to Wisconsin, to benefit kids like Dillon.

Out of 100 kids who volunteered to take the EKG test at Antioch Community High School just over the Wisconsin-Illinois border, statistically the two cardiologists volunteering to read the tests will find 10 to 12 kids who may have a cardiac problem. "When I call these parents and tell them their child has an EKG that requires further evaluation, they are so grateful. I can't tell you how grateful they are," Schewitz said.

Dillon Mahoney's family knows it will take a lot of work, and a lot of volunteers, but they're hoping to bring this program to Wisconsin. "I think the main thing that drew us here is, what can we do in Dillon's memory? What can we do to save other families the horrendous grief of losing a child, losing a brother. We're hoping," Dillon's mom, Jacqueline Sharpe said.

One effort to help kids in Wisconsin with undiagnosed heart conditions is a program called "Project Adam," that aims to place defibrillators in schools. It's named after a Whitefish Bay teen who died from a heart attack 12 years ago.