The Splash ‘n’ Dash Walk/Run was formed in partnership with Michele Crockett, Max Gilpin’s mother, with the goal of keeping our community active and also to encourage staying hydrated in warmer temperatures. Splash zones and water stations are placed throughout the race to keep participants internal and external body temperatures regulated.
Max Gilpin continues to be remembered at Splash 'n' Dash as participants finish the last mile of the race on the Max Gilpin Mile.
Join Max’s family and friends on their Splash ‘n’ Dash team, Max Gilpin “Beat the Heat,” or make a donation in honor of Max.
On Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008, a hot and humid day, Max Gilpin’s mother, Michele Crockett, received a phone call just as she was leaving work to pick him up from football practice. The caller said 15-year-old Max had passed out on the field and was not moving.
“I was not prepared for what I saw when I pulled up to the field,” she said. “Max was surrounded by coaches and his father. They had him propped up in a ‘Gator’ type vehicle. Ice packs were placed on his neck and groin area and they were pouring water over his body. His body was completely lifeless. His breathing was extremely labored.”
An ambulance arrived and they were soon on their way to Norton Children’s Hospital. Max’s body temperature was 107 degrees when he arrived at the emergency department. Staff worked quickly to cool his body. After several hours, Max was stable enough to be moved to the hospital’s “Just for Kids” Critical Care Center.
“A little while later the doctor came out to talk to us,” Crockett said. “She was excellent in explaining the injury. She told us that Max had suffered a massive heat stroke. She told us . . . his internal organs would most likely be compromised. She explained to us that they would not know the full extent of the damage for approximately 24 to 36 hours.”
By the following afternoon, Max was showing signs of improvement, a time his mom called “a very brief window of hope.” Within a few hours, his condition worsened.
“I stayed with him in his room that night. He was extremely restless and the nursing staff was always within an arm’s distance away. What a comfort to know they were right there at all times,” Crockett said.
Doctors continued treating Max over the next two days, but his condition further deteriorated. His last chance was a risky procedure called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). The heart and lung bypass machine would allow those organs to rest and give his kidneys and liver a chance to recover. As she waited, Crockett realized she had another decision to make.
“With the probability of Max’s death in the near future, I had to allow his younger sister and brother to visit him. I spoke to a staff member about my decision to have the kids come and visit Max. They put me in contact immediately with two young counselors on staff,” she said.
The counselors took a photograph of Crockett standing beside Max’s bed. The photo showed the ECMO machine and large tubes going into and out of Max’s neck and thigh. Crockett was relieved to have a way to prepare her younger children to see their brother in this condition.
By Saturday morning, the family’s hope for Max’s recovery had diminished. Even with continued intervention, his condition was not improving.
“By that evening we were preparing our goodbyes,” Crockett said. “The staff was very attentive to our needs. We were all able to stay with Max until the end, doctors and nurses included. They had become extended family over those four days. I knew they had exhausted all of their resources to save my son and were feeling the loss too. . . . I am so grateful for the level of care and compassion we received from Norton Children’s Hospital.”