Maxwell John Pardington was born September 14, 1993. He was our first-born son and a brother to two older sisters, Claire and Emily, and younger brother Jack. Max was unique from the start. Our family, all with dark eyes and dark hair, was amazed to have this blonde haired, bright blue-eyed boy. Trying to describe Max in a paragraph is like trying to catch lightning in a bottle: he is too big, too bright, a force of nature in his own right.
Max was a gentle soul. He lived life on his own terms. Never one to bring any trouble or stress into his life, he lived life as he saw fit. Max was full of life and full of adventure. Many friends, many lives he touched, but he always remained humble.
From the very beginning, Max sought out many different life experiences. His interests ranged from traveling worldwide, to delving into deep thought on various life topics with loved ones around a bonfire in Traverse City, Michigan. Max never declined an opportunity to make life more interesting. Although Max very much enjoyed being a homebody surrounded by his family, he was always eager to join in on exciting trips and adventures such as attending the Coachella music festival, flying to New York City to watch a hockey game, going to LA to watch a Lakers game, or fishing and hunting in various parts of the world with his dad and brother.
Another one of Max’s passions was leading a healthy and active lifestyle. Max worked out at least six times a week and was always looking for ways to push his physical boundaries. At age 18, Max completed a tough mudder and most recently, prior to his death, was training for an upcoming Iron Man in August 2014.
Before his untimely death, Max had just completed his second year at Michigan State University and was looking forward to spending his summer in Traverse City, his favorite place in the whole world. For the summer, he would be working full time at Black Star Farms pruning grapes and doing field work. On Monday, June 9, 2014, Max finished work at Black Star Farms around 5 p.m. followed by a workout on the beach to train for the Iron Man. He called his mother shortly after his workout, complaining that his heart was racing and wouldn’t slow down. She urged him to seek medical attention, however, Max decided eat dinner, drink water, and try to relax. He told his mother he would call her every hour. The last time she spoke with him was around 8:30 p.m. when Max was lying in bed watching a movie saying that he felt a little better. Max died peacefully in his sleep that night.
An autopsy revealed he died of “Hypertropic Cardiomyopathy.” In lay terms, Max died of an enlarged heart. Our family has come to understand that had Max received a “Healthy Heart Check” during his high school physicals, he might still be alive today. Any child who plays an organized high school sport must have an updated physical to play the following season. Max played basketball and not one doctor or coach along the way encouraged or mentioned getting an echocardiogram or electrocardiogram to check for a healthy heart.
Since our son and brother has died, we have set up the “LIVELIKEMAX” FOUNDATION. First and foremost, our goal is to provide awareness of this senseless and preventable death. Secondly, our goal is to encourage all high school athletes to get an echocardiogram and EKG. This foundation is partnering with Beaumont Hospital and providing healthy heart checks to all Michigan high school students who cannot afford one.
Max Pardington was 20 years old when he died. He was the picture of great health. At 6’5” tall and 220 pounds, he was in the best shape of his life. There were no outward signs or symptoms to let him or his family know that anything could possibly be wrong, but a simple test could have changed all of our lives. Any and all support for our foundation is greatly appreciated and will help save another family from such a devastating loss. Please visit the “How You Can Help” page for a list of ways you can support the LiveLikeMax Foundation.