Simon Keith C.M., 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 ninth Golf Tournament and Dinner on Friday, Oct. 6 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 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.
There will also be a special tribute to nine-year-old Emry Hoffman, hailing from York, Neb. Her story starts right after her birth. While still in the hospital, she had a pneumothorax, or collapsed lung. While receiving treatment in the NICU, doctors discovered that Emry’s kidney was enlarged and subsequently the lungs were underdeveloped.
She was diagnosed with ARPKD (Autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease) a rare genetic disorder that affects approximately 1 in 20,000 children. Almost 80% will survive the newborn period and one-third will need a transplant within the first 10 years of life. For Emry, her specialist had placed her on the transplant list due to the deteriorating function of the kidney and liver in December of 2021. Expecting a wait of at least 18 months, Emry was able to receive both a kidney and liver on April 23, 2021.
After just six months of feeling great and recovering, Emry began to feel the effects of the cysts forming on her native kidney. Just one month shy of her one-year transplant anniversary, she had her native kidney removed.
Since March of 2022 Emry has been living a “normal” kid life or at least as normal as we can make it for her. She has no food or activity restrictions like she did before transplant. She has the energy and strength to participate in school, activities and hang out with friends.
Each year, the tournament and dinner grows in stature, and hosting Emry and her family is especially poignant for Keith. In 2019, 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.
“Every year we are amazed by the support of the community and resiliency of the children that we are honoring,” said Keith. “We look forward to bringing everyone together to honor Emry and her family. 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.”
Now entering its ninth 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 hole activations featuring llamas, goats and camels, as well as 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 37 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.
Additional information about his inspirational story can be found at the official website – www.thesimonkeithfoundation.com. All tables for the dinner are sold out in 2023.