UNLV Alumni Profile
Las Vegas Review Journal – Heart Recipient Helping Others
The Simon Keith Foundation is proud to announce the sponsorship of CLUB AMERICA vs CHIVAS DE GUADALAJARA at the Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas Nevada, July 3rd, 2013. Matching two of Mexico’s premier soccer teams, the showcase game is another example of the Foundation using sports as a way to promote Organ Donation. With a large spanish speaking crowd set to attend the game this is an opportunity to promote donation to a a vital section of the population.
Donate Life Champion Inaugural Award
Keith joins Michael Jordan, Professional Golfer Erik Compton, The Arizona Diamondbacks, and Retired NFL Quarterback Boomer Esiason among others in receiving this prestigious award.
LAS VEGAS – April 13, 2013 – Simon Keith, the first athlete in the world to play a professional sport after receiving a heart transplant, has been awarded the Donate Life Champion award, based on his remarkable longevity, athletic accomplishments and his passionate promotion of organ donation.
As part of the “20 Million in 2012” campaign to register 20 million new people to state organ, eye and tissue donor registries last year, Donate Life America worked with state affiliates to present more than 50 Donate Life Champion awards to well-known athletes, teams and other role models within the sports community who have demonstrated remarkable support for organ, eye and tissue donation. In its inaugural year, the Donate Life Champion awards are being given to select members of the athletic community from across the country that have inspired others to give the gifts of life, sight and mobility.
Keith joins a list of individuals and organizations committed to this cause, including Michael Jordan, pro golfer Erik Compton, Boomer Esiason, San Francisco Giants coach Mark Gardner, as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks.
One of the longest living transplant recipients in the world, Simon released his autobiography – Heart for the Game – and also established The Simon Keith Foundation in 2012. Additional information about his inspirational story can be found at www.thesimonkeithfoundation.com.
After serving on the Nevada Donor Network’s Board of Governors, Simon is now the Chief Operating Officer for the Network. The Nevada Donor Network is the Organ Procurement Organization for most of the state of Nevada.
More than 115,000 Americans are currently waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant. By working with sports figures and their loyal fans, Donate Life America hopes to radically increase the number of registered donors.
Fans of sports figures are encouraged to join their state donor registry in their honor, to be known as a FanForLife. Each FanForLife has the potential to save up to 8 lives through organ donation and improve the quality of life for up to 50 people through eye and tissue donation.
To join your state registry visit www.donatelifeamerica.org.
The Simon Keith Foundation is dedicated to providing financial support primarily to youths who have undergone a life-saving organ transplant who desire a return to an active and healthy lifestyle. In addition to helping people with their non-medical expenses, the Foundation strives to increase organ donor registration through public awareness campaigns. For additional information please go to www.thesimonkeithfoundation.com.
Heart for the Game is available on Amazon, I-Tunes and through the Simon Keith Foundation website at www.thesimonkeithfoundation.com.
Quotes from Heart for the Game
“I have spent my professional career playing against some of the greatest athletes in the world. Each train hard, have a burning desire for their sport and have inevitably overcome some kind of adversity. I have never met an athlete who overcame Simon’s circumstances. To say the odds of playing soccer again were overwhelming doesn’t even begin to explain what he did.”
-Steve Nash, two-time NBA Most Valuable Player
Kate McCullough, Nevada Donor Network (firstname.lastname@example.org)
(702) 796-9600 or (702) 884-1229 (cellular)
Michael Mack, Las Vegas Events (email@example.com)
(702) 260-8605 or (702) 349-0023 (cellular)
“Recently, we selected Simon Keith to speak at our Anytime Fitness Annual Conference. Our audience is franchise owners and managers in our health clubs from all over the world. Simon’s message on moments of truth absolutely motivated and inspired our group, who is in the business of motivation and inspiration!
Simon shares what he has learned through his personal journey of being a heart transplant recipient, who actually made his way back to a career as a professional athlete. His delivery style was so genuine yet impactful. His message is clear, concise and exactly what people need to hear. His book is also a great take away for attendees.
We look forward to continuing our relationship with Simon and would absolutely recommend him as a speaker for future events. If you want your audience to be fully present, think about what they can do better as well as get a full dose of surprise, energy and enthusiasm, Simon Keith is your guy!”
VP of Strategic Initiatives Anytime Fitness, LLC.
Now available for purchase!
Buy the Anytime Fitness (Limited Edition) copy of Heart for the Game.
HEART FOR THE GAME
BY STEVE NASH
I come from the same place as Simon Keith, literally and figuratively.
From growing up in Victoria, British Columbia, to attending the same high school for a time, Simon and I share so much. We’re undersized and were overlooked. Like Simon, soccer has been a passion of mine since I was born (even if I ended up in the NBA). We’re the sons of immigrant English and Welsh parents. We are Canadian. We are athletes.
Once you get past some of those facts, Simon’s path to the professional ranks represents a journey with odds much steeper than mine – a self described, slow, white, Canadian point guard, with exactly one scholarship offer.
All athletes have their own personal challenges as they rise through the ranks of their sport. Simon’s were unique. I try and imagine a doctor telling me at age 20 that I had six weeks to live, that my heart was about to give out on me. I envision me and my family having to travel 5,000 miles to finally get the heart that was so desperately needed just as time was about to run out. What Simon was facing at that point in his career would stop most kids in their tracks. But I understand where Simon comes from.
I understand that our shared upbringings allowed us to dream. So Simon decided to take it a step further. A lot of steps further. Long strides, actually. With a pacemaker bulging from his chest, Simon continued to chase the goal to actually play again. Not in a rec league and not just in college.
As a professional.
I have spent my professional career playing against some of the greatest athletes in the world. Each train hard, have a burning desire for their sport and have inevitably overcome some kind of adversity. I have never met an athlete who overcame Simon’s circumstances. To say the odds of playing soccer again were overwhelming doesn’t even begin to explain what he did.
Just living required overcoming long odds. To live for more than 25 years makes Simon one of the longest-living heart transplant recipients in the world. To put that in perspective, the average life expectancy at the time he had the surgery was less than seven years. Put it all together and you have a physical achievement that is truly unparalleled.
All these years later, Simon has gone on a pilgrimage to help readers understand his journey. That pilgrimage includes a dramatic meeting with the father of the young man who died and whose heart was donated to Simon. Their meeting, 25 years after that fateful day when the father lost his son and Simon gained a life, takes place in the perfect setting. The soccer field where the young man had ironically died while playing soccer, looks like any number of fields that bring back memories of our youth. A soccer field for us represents our childhood, and the uninhibited natural passion we have for the game. For Simon this field represented life.
I encourage people to read the story of how Simon became the first person to ever come back from a heart transplant to play professional sports. Making his return was beyond guts and determination.
Obviously, much of that courage comes from his parents, a Welsh father and an English mother who left the mother country in the 1960s, just like my folks did at roughly the same time. Our parents came to Canada to escape economic hardship and make a better life for us. Ironically, both our sets of parents made a brief stop in Saskatchewan before continuing west and settling in Victoria. They were selfless, tough-minded people.
Both our fathers passed an infectious passion for soccer to us. We both played the beautiful game practically from the time we could walk, going through Victoria’s great youth program. For Simon, two older brothers helped push him to greater and greater levels, key to cementing his love for the game. For me, it was a younger brother and younger sister who provided the natural opponents growing up.
As a fellow athlete, I completely identify with the will sports creates in those of us who give ourselves to the game. For each of us, Victoria was the backdrop for this passion. There was a culture of amateur sports that made healthy competition part of our DNA and made dreams of athletic success possible.
In this book, Simon takes you through all of that, from the building blocks his parents provided to make him strong, to the environment in Victoria that provided everything he needed to succeed. That includes a community that supported him and his family in a time of need. The expression that it takes a village to raise a child couldn’t be more appropriate than in this story. The great people of Victoria mobilized to raise money to cover the huge expenses that weren’t covered by Canada’s healthcare program.
With a great community support system in place, coupled with a passion for sports imprinted by our shared youth, Simon attempted something so far beyond people’s imagination that even his closest family and friends were anxious. But belief and desire are strong partners.
Like any great athlete who is told he can’t do something, Simon took that talk and turned it into fuel for his desire. As a result, Simon chose a path that I associate very clearly with. Chasing his goals in the United States (through college and later professional soccer) allowed Simon the opportunity to follow his dreams. What he achieved is simply extraordinary.
This is a story about the human spirit. It will inspire. It will motivate. It will make you laugh and it will make you cry. It is a story of hope and determination. It is an incredible saga. It is a story of almost unbelievable luck coupled with world class perseverance. And after all that it is still so much more.