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WestJet’s Saretsky nets prestigious honour

WestJet president and CEO Gregg Saretsky and organ donor advocate Simon Keith will be honoured as the recipients of the David Foster Foundation Visionary Awards at the upcoming David Foster Foundation Miracle Gala & Concert, to be held on Sept. 26, 2015 at the Mattamy Athletic Centre at the Gardens in Toronto, Ont.


September 16, 2015
By The David Foster Foundation

Saretsky, president and CEO of WestJet — will be honoured as the National Business Leader of the Year. The National Humanitarian Leader of the Year will be presented to Simon Keith, organ donor advocate and the first professional athlete in the world to play a professional sport after undergoing a heart transplant.

“Both these gentlemen are passionate about the well-being of children and we are honoured to announce Gregg Saretsky and Simon Keith as our 2015 Visionary Award Recipients,” says Michael Ravenhill, CEO of the David Foster Foundation. “They both remain steadfast in raising awareness of the importance of organ donor registration, while focusing their support on improving the lives of those impacted by organ transplants.”

Through the leadership of Saretsky, WestJet has been a major supporter of the David Foster Foundation since 2010, connecting families with children undergoing life-saving pediatric organ transplants as they travel across Canada for treatment and support at the nation’s pediatric hospitals that specialize in organ transplants. In September 2014, Saretsky announced that the David Foster Foundation would be formally included in the WestJet Cares for Kids program — a collection of eight Canadian charitable partners that focus on the health and well-being of youth. To date, WestJet has provided hundreds of flights for families throughout Canada.

A Victoria, B.C., native, Simon Keith has lived through the process of requiring a heart transplant, having received his new heart in July 1986 at age 21. Keith, a world class soccer player prior to the operation, was determined to return to ‘his normal’ and after playing at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) for two seasons, Keith was drafted first overall into the Major Indoor Soccer League just three years after his transplant. Based in Las Vegas, NV, he founded The Simon Keith Foundation in 2011, an organization dedicated to increasing organ donor awareness and educating transplant recipients. Keith uses the proceeds from his worldwide speaking engagements to provide athletic training for other transplant recipients who choose to return to an active and healthy lifestyle.

The star-studded David Foster Foundation Miracle Gala & Concert at the Mattamy Athletic Centre at the Gardens will feature performances by David Foster, Stevie Wonder, Michael Bolton, Peter Cetera, Kiesza, and Sinbad. Funds raised from the annual event go towards the Foundation’s 30 x 30 campaign, where they aim to raise $30M by their 30th anniversary in 2017 to ensure the foundation is here to help families for generations to come.

The David Foster Foundation supports the non-medical expenses of families with children undergoing life-saving pediatric organ transplants. Non-medical expenses range from mortgage, rent, and car payments to airline tickets, groceries, parking, and gas. The average cost to support one family for a year is $10,000, but total family support may reach upwards of $100,000. Often, families have to travel away from home and set up temporary housing close to one of the pediatric transplant hospitals in Canada. Since its inception, the Foundation has worked with close to 1,000 families across Canada.

The 2015 David Foster Foundation Miracle Gala & Concert is presented by TELUS in partnership with WestJet. Generous support for the event is also provided by Miracle Maker Sponsor, CIBC Children’s Foundation; Luxury Sponsor, Bedat & Co.; and Red Carpet Sponsors, Boston Pizza, and the Slaight Family Foundation. Additional sponsors include: Official Hotel Sponsors, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, and The Omni King Edward Hotel; Media Partners, The Globe & Mail, MOUSE Marketing, Tartan Group, and Holmes PR; Graphic Design and Stationery, Palettera; and Digital Innovation Partner, Flybits.