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Simon Keith golf tourney for organ donor awareness returns

Canadians, cigars, llamas and at least one former hockey-playing Courtnall brother — things for which the Simon Keith Foundation golf tournament have become known — return Friday to Revere Golf Club.

Keith, a former UNLV soccer star who has undergone two heart transplants and a kidney transplant and has become one of the nation’s foremost organ donor advocates, said an even better tradition of the fundraiser is the tribute to a young organ recipient who has overcome tremendous health challenges to enjoy a second chance at life.

This year, the story of 8-year-old Madelyn Quinn, who was born with a heart defect and underwent three open heart surgeries, will be told. When the delicate procedures and insertion of a pacemaker failed to correct her condition, she underwent a heart transplant when she was 2.

The daughter of a former PGA teaching pro and an aspiring golfer herself, Maddie Quinn will play with her father in the organ donor fundraiser.

Greg Quinn, now an executive at CareDx, a company dedicated to transplant services, said machines were keeping his daughter alive when her donor heart arrived three days after she was put on the transplant list and admitted to the hospital.

The two recently attended the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines near San Diego, which seems hard for Greg Quinn to fathom, given his daughter’s condition before the life-saving transplant.

“It was the most miraculous transformation we had ever seen,” he said. “Her cheeks were rosy, she was warm to the touch for the first time. You don’t realize until you live it every day what heart failure can do.

“She’s been going a million miles an hour ever since.”

The same can’t be said of the Courtnall brothers of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, which also is where Simon Keith grew up. Canadian travel restrictions and other conflicts will preclude former NHLers Geoff and Russ Courtnall from attending this year’s golf and stogiefest presented by a grant from The Engelstad Foundation.

“But it looks like we got the youngest one” Keith said of Bruce Courtnall, who played three seasons of major junior hockey in the Western Hockey League.

Will Cubs return to LV Ballpark?

The Chicago Cubs have yet to commit to Big League Weekend when the major league preseason games return to Las Vegas Ballpark in March.

Aviators president Don Logan said don’t read too much into that.

“They want to wait until the season is over (before negotiating),” Logan said. “They’ve been here so much they’ve got to (return). People expect the Cubs to be here.”

Big League Weekend last was played in 2020 when the Cubs, Reds, Indians and the Aviators’ parent club, the A’s, were featured in the only four games played at Las Vegas Ballpark before COVID canceled the minor league season.

Around the horn

— Faith Lutheran’s LJ Mercurius is one of 23 high school players selected by Major League Baseball who will compete in the Underclass World Championships starting Thursday in Fort Myers, Florida. All who were chosen are African-American or Latino prospects graduating high school in 2023 or 2024.

— Centennial’s Jordan Boman, who hit six home runs during last year’s abbreviated high school season, will participate in the 14th annual Power Showcase. The home run derby for amateur sluggers is Nov. 20 to 24 at LoanDepot Park, home of the Miami Marlins.

— Was last Sunday’s NASCAR playoff race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway a good one? No, according to 77 percent of 18,944 respondents to a poll conducted by The Athletic’s Jeff Gluck after Denny Hamlin’s victory in the South Point 400. Conversely, 88.5 percent of the 15,642 who voted gave a thumbs-up to LVMS’ spring race won by Kyle Larson.

0:01

Heads, we win … tails, we also win.

That might not be how the expression goes. Except at Alabama, which always wins despite calling only five of 17 coin tosses dating to last season correctly.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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