Kansas City, Mo. (November 2, 2023) – United Soccer Coaches announced on Thursday that former professional soccer player, social entrepreneur, philanthropist, and world-renowned speaker, Simon Keith has been selected to receive the association’s 2023 Honorary All-America Award. Keith will be presented the award at the association’s All-America Ceremony taking place at noon on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024, during the United Soccer Coaches Convention, in Anaheim, Calif.
“Simon Keith is an inspiration to us all,” said Dr. David Carr, United Soccer Coaches President. “It is an honor to award him the title of Honorary All-America. His story is remarkable and his dedication to organ donor awareness, his dedication to children recovering from transplant surgery, and his dedication to making the lives of others better, speaks volumes. We can’t thank you enough!”Click here for a list of previous Honorary All-America Award recipients.The world’s first heart transplant recipient to play a professional sport, Simon Keith has taken his unexpected journey and used it as a vehicle for change in the world of sport and organ donation. He is one of the longest-living organ transplant recipients in the world, having received a heart transplant when he was just 21 years old. Born in Lewes, England, and raised in Victoria, B.C., Keith first played soccer in the Vancouver Island youth soccer system, eventually representing the province of British Columbia at the youth and senior levels. After a stint playing for Millwall FC, he returned to Canada to play for the University of Victoria while also playing with the Canadian Men’s National Team program. It was then that Keith grew sick and eventually needed a heart transplant. Following his surgery in 1986, Keith went on to play two seasons at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and was drafted #1 overall in the Major Indoor Soccer League. In 2011, he traveled to Newport, Wales, to meet his heart donor’s family. Ironically, he had received the heart of a 17-year-old Welsh athlete who had died while playing soccer. After returning from the United Kingdom impassioned, Keith became involved with the organ procurement organization (OPO) in Las Vegas, Nevada, initially sitting on the board of directors and then becoming chief operating officer. In March of 2019 he received a second heart transplant and a new kidney in San Diego. In 2012, he founded The Simon Keith Foundation, an organization dedicated to increasing organ donor awareness and educating transplant recipients. Since its establishment, the foundation has raised millions of dollars to support kids who have had transplants as well as spread organ donation awareness around the world. Keith is a member of the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame and the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame. In 2023 he was awarded the Silver Rebel Award as part of the UNLV Athletics Hall of Fame. Keith was awarded Canada’s Humanitarian of the Year award by the David Foster Foundation and was appointed to the prestigious Order of Canada, one of Canada’s highest civilian honors, in 2022. Keith lives in Las Vegas, Nev., and has been married for more than 30 years to his wife Kelly. They have three children – Sarah, Sam and Sean. Each year, the United Soccer Coaches Honorary All-America Award is presented to a person or persons who have brought particular distinction and/or attention to the sport of soccer through their efforts within and beyond the boundaries of the sport. Among past recipients, the categories of persons recognized have included astronauts, entertainers, politicians, military personnel, administrators and other individuals connected to the game.