When 18-year-old Max passed away following an auto accident, the world lost a talented young man. Yet, Max’s legacy lives on – both through his incredible music and his gift of sight.
As a high school student in Kansas, Max discovered a passion for music. He was the captain of his school’s drum line and played percussion in two church praise bands, so it was no surprise when the talented teen received a college scholarship to study music education.
While his talent defined much of who he was, it was his caring spirit that truly impacted those around him. Said his mother, Pam, “One year he found out that a disabled kid in his youth group wouldn’t be able to go to camp if he didn’t have someone along to help him, and Max dropped everything and volunteered so that kid wouldn’t miss out on camp. He didn’t let me tell anyone about that while he was alive – that was typical Max.”
After his death, Max’s high school classmates chose to honor his memory through his music. Throughout the 2010 football season, the marching band performed one of Max’s arrangements at every home game during which the drum line played his cadence while the rest of the band got down on one knee. “It made me cry every time,” Pam shared.
In addition, a memorial in Max’s name raised funds to purchase a marimba, a large percussion instrument, for his former high school. For years, the nine high schools in his school district have passed one marimba back and forth. Now his alma mater has its own instrument for performances.
A Gift that Lives on
When Max lost his life, his parents had to make the agonizing decision whether or not to donate his eyes, organs and tissues. Although they had never previously discussed donation with their son, his parents chose to donate his corneas to help others regain their sight. It was only after the decision was made did his parents learn that Max had indeed signed his driver’s license to be a donor.
For Pam, knowing Max continues to help others through donation has been a light during the grieving process. “Through discussion boards for parents who’ve lost children, I’ve seen so many parents who regret not making the choice to donate. But at the time, you think of your child as a person who still needs things like eyes and organs. I felt if we were going to lose him anyway, I wanted something good to come out of it.”
Because of Max’s gift, two individuals – one in Missouri and one in California – underwent corneal transplants to restore their vision. Like the hundreds of people he touched in his 18 years, these gentlemen’s lives are better because of Max.
Remarked Pam, “I pray that the people who received the gift of his eyes will be blessed by knowing that Max saw life through those eyes, and more importantly, we saw that deep, sweet soul that belonged to Max through them.”