Our Story?

Imagine the excitement and emotions of holding your first newborn baby. Maybe you couldn’t admit it verbally, but deep down inside you were hoping for a boy or perhaps a little girl, but all you mostly wanted was to take home a happy healthy baby. More families than you might imagine never get to experience that sensation as they see their child for the first time. They are instead presented with the trauma of not having delivered a healthy baby, and when faced with that news the world stops for them and their circle of friends. This shocking news was exactly what Keith Overton received in 1995 when he and his wife delivered the first of their 4 children. MacKenzie Overton was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, which basically meant the left ventricle of her heart never developed properly or fully.

Diagnosed with only a five percent change for survival, the Overton’s were faced with very difficult choices. They could do nothing and let MacKenzie pass away, elect to have her undergo a series of surgeries called the Norwood Procedure or have her placed on a waiting list with the hopes of receiving a heart transplant. When considering those options… the potential quality of life was a significant consideration. The decision was made to attempt a heart transplant at Children’s Hospital is St. Louis, one of the top two neonatal transplant facilities at that time. On the 17th day of MacKenzie’s young life, word was received that a heart had become available and was in route. Considering that most fatalities to children in need of a heart transplant occur due to the long waiting period, MacKenzie was indeed blessed and fortunate. The heart transplant was successful and MacKenzie returned home to Florida just a few weeks later.
MacKenzie’s medical care continues to be performed by the team at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida. While daily medicines must be administered and frequent tests need to be performed, MacKenzie leads the life of a normal young adult. With minimal restrictions on any physical activities, MacKenzie enjoyed many successes as a young female athlete. Her love for competitive fastpitch softball was the impetus for the creation of Athletes for Hearts, Inc. She now is a certified scuba diver, a licensed boat captain, a JetLev Flight instructor, works full-time at TradeWinds Island Resorts and attends college.

As a result of financial limitations prohibiting proper medical treatment, so many families will not experience the good fortune that MacKenzie has been blessed with. Athletes for Hearts, Inc., is on a mission to ensure that any child needing medical care for a heart related condition, not only receives the opportunity to survive and overcome a life-threatening heart defect, but is afforded the chance to flourish in life.

Each year Athletes for Hearts, Inc., strives to conduct events and sports tournaments in its fundraising efforts to support these children with heart defects and their families. We are supported through volunteerism only! We have no paid employees and no overhead. As a result, this philosophical approach allows 100% of our donations raised to go directly to the kids and families facing a life-threating heart related issue.

Softball for Hearts Fastpitch Softball Tournament, hosted annually each February by two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, Michele Smith, is a college showcase and competitive youth softball tournament held in Clearwater, Florida, that attracts hundreds of teams from around the country annually.

Fishing for Hearts is an inshore “Catch and Release” fishing tournament hosted annually each September, by world-renown artist and ocean conservationist Dr. Guy Harvey, at RumFish Grill in St. Pete Beach, Florida. Over 50 professionally guided boats filled with sponsored amateur anglers compete in the Tampa Bay and Gulf waters to catch grand slams of redfish, snook and trout in this high-end in-shore sport fishing tournament.

Athletes for Hearts dinner and auction fundraiser is held annually each January inside the 11,000 sq. ft. Pavilion at TradeWinds Island Grand Resort on St. Pete Beach. Consistently our 500+ attendees and sponsors enjoy world-class food and beverage and bid on literally hundreds of auction items including fabulous vacation packages, in-home parties provided by celebrity chefs, attraction tickets, sports packages, sports memorabilia, spa services and much more.

Athletes for Hearts, Inc., is supported by dozens of current and retired professional athletes as well as hundreds of fantastic businesses in and outside of Tampa Bay. We are always looking for dedicated volunteers in any capacity relevant to sports tournament hosting, auction committee work, event management duties, corporate sponsorship sales, general fundraising, vending and staffing just to mention a few. To find out about how you can assist, please contact Keith Overton at (c) 727-432-3428 or keithoverton@twresort.com.