Simon Keith, the first athlete in the world to play a professional sport after receiving a heart transplant and recent heart/kidney transplant recipient, will host his sixth annual Golf Tournament and Dinner on Friday, Oct. 11 to benefit children who have undergone life-saving organ transplants and to increase organ donor awareness.
The event is organized by The Simon Keith Foundation, with the golf tournament presented by a grant from the Engelstad Family Foundation. This year, the event will be held at the Revere Golf Club, with a shotgun start at noon PT, followed by the dinner at 5 p.m. The Wedge Brothers will provide the entertainment at the dinner.
Being able to host the event again in 2019 is especially poignant for Keith. Earlier this year, for the second time in his life, a heroic donor and their courageous family have given Simon the greatest gift one human can receive from another: the gift of life.
In late 2018, Keith learned he needed another heart transplant more than 30 years after the first he received at just 21 years old – but this time, he also needed a kidney. To further complicate the matter, both lifesaving organs would need to come from the same donor hero. After several months in and out of the hospital fighting for his life, Keith got the call and his gift of a heart transplant on March 17, 2019. He underwent a successful kidney transplant the following day as well thanks to the same heroic donor.
“I am so humbled and grateful beyond words for the enormous outpouring of love and support from around the globe,” said Keith. “With this amazing journey of the last year, it has only reinforced our goal to continue to assist families in need. Our annual golf tournament and dinner is an extension of our mission within the community – supporting families and the children who have undergone a life-saving organ transplant. All funds are directed toward that goal.”
Now entering its sixth year, the annual dinner and golf tournament has become a must-attend event for locals and those abroad. The golf tournament is fun, lively and full of attractions – including a hole featuring llamas, another with goats and lots of cigars. However, the Foundation’s vital mission can be felt by all attendees. Each year, the Foundation honors an organ transplant recipient at the dinner, drawing on Keith’s inspiration and personal journey.
More than 32 years ago, another hero gave Simon his first lifesaving gift. Just 21 years old at the time, Simon was a young soccer player who suddenly learned he needed a new heart. That gift came on July 7, 1986 from a 17-year-old boy from Wales whose legacy lives on through Simon as detailed in his biography, “Heart for the Game.” Just three years later, Simon became the first person in the world to play a professional sport after undergoing a heart transplant. Due to his personal journey, he started the Simon Keith Foundation in 2011 – dedicated to raising awareness for organ donation and specifically to providing support for families whose children have undergone lifesaving transplants. He looks forward to continuing these efforts on behalf of youth navigating new challenges and looking to him as a source of inspiration.
In 2018, The Simon Keith Foundation reached two impressive milestones. The Foundation supported all registration fees for the youth participants competing in both the Vancouver 2018 Canadian Transplant Games and the Donate Life Transplant Games of America. In addition, the Foundation reached the $1 million benchmark for funds raised and contributed into the support of transplant recipients and organ donation.
Keith released his autobiography – Heart for the Game – and also established The Simon Keith Foundation in 2011. His incredible story was chronicled in an ESPN E:60 profile, titled Change of Heart.