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Community comes together after death of Marcus student
By Chris Roark, email@example.com
Coaches, students and members of the Flower Mound community are offering ways to show support following the death of 17-year-old Max Schwolert on Saturday night.
Max, a senior at Marcus High School, was visiting family in Wisconsin when he began experiencing flu symptoms on Christmas night. His condition worsened Dec. 26, and he was transported via CareFlite to Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minn.
Family members said Max developed a staph infection as a result of the flu, which led to his death.
"Max was hilarious," said Marcus senior Duncan Sutherland, who had been friends with Max for years and was on the school's golf team with him. "He was fun to be around, and he loved everyone."
Phil Schwolert, Max's uncle, said he has been described as a goofball with a big heart.
"He had a big, big heart, and we're still learning how big it was," Phil Schwolert said. "There have been children writing letters about how they looked up to him."
Max was involved in the youth ministry at Faith Lutheran Church in Flower Mound.
"There are pastors in his family, and he had the pastor genes in him," Phil Schwolert said. "Max wasn't shy about showing his love for the church. He was passionate about the ministry and for the love of Jesus Christ."
At Marcus, Max had been on the golf team for four years and was a letterman for two years. The team is preparing several events to honor him, including the Max Schwolert Memorial Golf Tournament that coach Kerry Gabel is organizing. Gabel said the tournament is expected to draw some of the best high school teams in the area. He said it will likely take place in the spring, though a date hasn't been confirmed.
"I'm also trying to get bag tags with his name on it for the kids so they'll have something to remember him by," Gabel said.
Gabel is also organizing a balloon launch Saturday night in Max's honor.
Families are also making T-shirts to help raise money for the Schwolert family.
The "Pray for Max" fund has been set up at www.gofundme.com for those wishing to donate money to help defray medical expenses for the family.
Also, in lieu of flowers, the "Love to the Max" initiative has been established at Faith Lutheran for those who want to honor him. Money donated there will be used to support the church's youth minnistry.
"'Love to the Max' started as a Twitter hashtag," Sutherland said. "It just means to live the way Max lived and to love the way Max loved."
Friends say not only was Max loving, but he was healthy. Gabel said that's what made news of his death so shocking.
"The hardest part was that it was so sudden," Gabel said. "He played golf all the time. He was a big, tall, athletic kid."
But the flu season has struck earlier this year. Whereas the flu season typically peaks in February, doctors offices and emergency rooms have already seen a spike in patients suffering from the flu.
Phil Schwolert said in Max's case, the flu weakened his immune system, which led to the staph infection. He said battling both was simply too much.
"People get the flu, and they get staph infections," Phil Schwolert said. "But Max got both at the same time. It was just a tragic coincidence of health conditions that led to the weakening of his body."
Phil Schwolert said Max had not gotten a flu shot but stressed that that's not the reason for his death.
"As important as flu shots are, that's not why this happened," Phil Schwolert said. "The staph infection led to several complications. His body was weak, and he couldn't withstand the flu and the staph infection at the same time."
To leave a message for the Schwolert family, go to www.caringbridge.org/visit/maxschwolert/journal.
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