Add To Favorites In PHR

Cardiac patient donors sought

Topeka Capital Journal - 9/8/2017

Max Ronnebaum, of Topeka, was recently diagnosed with heart failure and is dealing with medical bills and taking care of not only himself, but his two daughters.

Two fundraisers are planned this weekend to help with his expenses since he's unable to work at his business.

"Max is the guy that everyone can depend and that will do anything for anybody, anything for anybody," said Max's sister, Tracy Ronnebaum. "We all want to do this because he would not think twice about doing the same for us."

The Norsemen Brewing Company will donate $1 for every beer sold from 4 to 11 p.m. Friday to Strong Heart Strong Max. On Sunday, a luncheon and auction will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the American Legion Post 400.

The silent and live auction will include University of Kansas basketball tickets, Kansas State University football tickets, gift baskets, tools, an antique tractor, guns and a hunting and fishing trip.

The lunch includes a pulled pork barbecue sandwich, sides, dessert and a drink, which will be offered for a free-will donation. There also will be face painting.

The Norsemen is located at 830 N. Kansas Ave., in the NOTO Arts District, and the legion is located at 3029 N.W. US-24 highway.

His daughters -- Kallie, 10, and Haiden Ronnebaum, 7 -- are supporting their dad through his diagnosis. The support of his daughters has given him the will to fight each day, Tracy Ronnebaum said.

The girls have been staying with their mother, Shawna Isakson, during this time.

"She brought the girls to see him almost every day," Tracy Ronnebaum said.

Max Ronnebaum, 36, spent a little more than two weeks in the hospital at KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., after initially being taken to St. Francis Health Center.

After experiencing shortness of breath and a dry cough for a while, a week prior to his diagnosis he began to get short of breath and would have to rest after.

"He couldn't walk more than 50 yards or what not," Tracy Ronnebaum said.

After dinner on July 19, he laid down after he had eaten and said he felt like he was having a heart attack and went to the emergency room at St. Francis Health Center. After running some tests, doctors determined he'd had a mild cardiac arrest. The next day, he found out only 10 percent to 12 percent of his heart was functioning, and it twice the size of a normal heart. He was diagnosed with severe heart failure and flown by LifeFlight to KU Med on July 22. During his stay in the Cardiac ICU, he had a major stroke on July 23. It affected the left side of his body and he was taken to the Neuro ICU.

"He's had minimal effects -- just loss of feeling in his fingers on the left side," Tracy Ronnebaum said of her brother's stroke. "He has been doing construction his whole life. With my dad being a contractor, Max grew up with it. He now has his own business, Max Ronnebaum Construction. He's been on his own about four years. He can do anything -- he got all of his skills and all those great qualities from our dad. He's always been very healthy, never had any issues."

After getting a pacemaker/implantable defibrillator, he was able to go home with many restrictions.

"He gets worn out a lot sooner," Tracy Ronnebaum said.

During his stay in the hospital, the doctors weren't optimistic about his recovery. They told Tracy Ronnebaum the cause could have been a virus that settled in his heart.

"They'll never know 100 percent," she said.

He is waiting for his next follow-up appointment Sept. 20 to see what steps to take next with his health.

"He'll have tests to see if there are any more changes to the size of his heart or the pacemaker/defibrillator. The results will be the deciding factor on the next step," she said.

Currently, he has no health insurance, and Tracy Ronnebaum is working on getting him signed up for Medicaid.

Support from the community, friends and family has been overwhelming. His construction business is being handled by his dad, and other family and friends are "pitching in to do what they can to keep his business going," she said.

Tracy and Max Ronnebaum's parents are Terry and Carol Ronnebaum, who live just outside of Topeka.

"Thank you to everyone. It's been overwhelming. Family and friends, community, sub-contractors. Strangers that want to help," Tracy Ronnebaum said. "This puts your life into perspective. It's eye-opening for all of us."

Wristbands, T-shirts and tank tops that read Strong Heart Strong Max are on sale to support him and his daughters. The wristbands are $5 and T-shirts and tank tops are $20, all sizes, youth and adult.

"All proceeds from the fundraisers and shirts are going to medical expenses. We want him and the girls to lead a normal life," Tracy Ronnebaum said.

There is a Strong Heart Strong Max Facebook page to show support, and donations also can be mailed to Strong Heart Strong Max, 1100 S.W. Collins Ave., Topeka, KS 66604.

To donate items for the silent and live auctions, call Tracy Ronnebaum at (785) 633-2588, or send a message on the Facebook page at

Credit: By Jessica


Driving Walking/Biking Public Transit  Get Directions