Founded in 2012 by 5-time Olympic gold medalist Eric Heiden, the Play Well – Play Safe Foundation is a Utah-based nonprofit organization focused on improving the health and wellness of kids by fostering participation in sport. As an athlete from a young age, Eric is passionate about the incredibly positive impact sports can have on kids. He started Play Well – Play Safe to bring together people with the shared values of character-building, health and wellness through sports and athletics in order to provide resources – such as scholarships, sports equipment, funding and safety equipment – to underserved kids in our communities.
Meet Our Founder
Eric Heiden, M.D.
5-time Olympic Gold Medalist & Orthopedic Surgeon
The Importance of Sports
Sports teach us emotional and physical discipline, as well as accountability to ourselves and others through teamwork. They instruct us how to respect others – our teammates, our competition and our coaches – and the importance of sportsmanship and showing kindness in both victory and defeat. Sports give us a mindset that we can change and improve, and positively affect fitness and physical and mental health.
Play Well – Play Safe’s overarching mission is to bring communities together through athletics. To do so, we believe that we need to remove the barriers of entry to sports and athletics for kids of all backgrounds and incomes. Our key initiatives include providing resources that can remove these barriers – such as grants and scholarships, sports equipment and other financial aid – and donating automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to individuals and organizations in need.
Play Well – Play Safe also believes in the power of education. In addition to providing resources and AEDs to our communities, we’ve held educational events and seminars on creating positive sport experiences for our youth, parents’ role in their athlete’s development and how credible coaches create better competitors, among others.
We Want All Kids to Play Well & Play Safe
Individual, Organization & Safety Programs
Explore Our Programs
Play Well – Play Safe’s programs provide financial aid and equipment to underserved young athletes and organizations and donate live-saving AEDs to communities in need. Our programs include:
AEDs for Individuals
AEDs for Organizations
In Partnership with Heiden Orthopedics
Led by Drs. Eric and Karen Heiden, Heiden Orthopedics and its team of orthopedic surgeons provide world-class orthopedic care to athletes of all ages at its Park City, Salt Lake City, Draper and Tooele clinics. The entire Heiden team is dedicated to preventing and treating injuries and is proud to be partnered with the Play Well – Play Safe Foundation.
Meet Our Board & Staff
Eric Heiden, M.D.
Founder, Board Member
Dr. Eric Heiden is the knee, shoulder and sports medicine specialist at Heiden Orthopedics. Although many claim “sports medicine” to be their specialty, Dr. Heiden embodies the term like no other orthopedic surgeon. Earning more medals in a single Olympics than any previous Olympic athlete and setting 15 world records in his speed skating career, Dr. Heiden is a true American sports icon. At the 1980 Lake Placid Olympic Winter Games, he won the Gold in all five speed skating events, including sprint and distance, while setting four Olympic records and one world record.
After retiring from speed skating, Dr. Heiden began a second career in cycling. He quickly rose to the top, winning a United States Cycling Championship and competing with the 7-11 team in the 1986 Tour de France just a few years later. By 1991, Dr. Heiden had earned his medical degree from Stanford University and was ready to begin his third career – what he considers his life work – as an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine. In 2008, Drs Eric and Karen Heiden established their own orthopedic practices in Park City, Salt Lake and Tooele.
Karen Heiden, M.D.
Co-founder, Board Member
Dr. Karen Heiden is the hand and upper extremity specialist at Heiden Orthopedics. She earned her medical degree from Stanford University, and supplemented her education with an internship in general surgery and a residency in orthopedic surgery at the University of California Davis Medical Center, where she also completed a fellowship in hand surgery. While in Sacramento, she practiced as a hand surgeon and assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at U.C. Davis.
Dr. Karen Heiden and her husband, Dr. Eric Heiden, came to Utah in 2006, and worked at “The Orthopaedic Specialty Hospital” (TOSH). In 2008, Drs Karen and Eric Heiden established their own orthopedic practices in Park City, Salt Lake and now Tooele. Dr. Karen Heiden is actively involved in a number of community organizations and is particularly interested in the support of cancer foundations, women’s health, and underprivileged populations. Dr. Karen Heiden enjoys nordic skiing, karate, running and outdoor life, and is proud to serve the community with Heiden Orthopedics.
Daniel Gibbs, M.D.
Daniel Gibbs, MD is a board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon specializing in the preservation of the hip, knee and shoulder. He uses nonoperative, minimally invasive, arthroscopic, and open techniques to improve his patients’ function and return them to the activities that they love. Dr. Gibbs was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. He went to college at the University of Notre Dame, completed his medical school at Georgetown University and performed his residency in orthopedic surgery at Northwestern University. He completed his fellowship in orthopedic sports medicine at the renowned Kerlan Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles, California where he cared for some of the world’s most elite athletes. He received his board certification from the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery.
Dr. Gibbs has served as a team physician for the University of Southern California (USC) football team, LA Kings and LA Dodgers. He has also cared for athletes and provided medical coverage for the Chicago Bears, Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Cubs, LA Galaxy, Anaheim Angels, Anaheim Ducks, Northwestern University Athletics, Loyola Marymount University Athletics and USC Athletics. He is a current orthopaedic consultant for the LA Kings and USC Football team. Dr. Gibbs has an interest in contributing to our understanding of orthopedic conditions. With over 20 publications in peer-reviewed journals and numerous abstracts, presentations and book chapters, Dr. Gibbs enjoys being able to advance the field of orthopedics through research. Dr. Gibbs lives in Salt Lake City with his wife, three children and dog. He enjoys giving back to the community that has given him so much.
John Flint is the Executive Director for the Play Well Play Safe Foundation and has been the Practice Administrator for Dr. Heiden’s clinic, Heiden Orthopedics, for 14 years. John not only graduated with a master's degree in business but is also a fully licensed physical therapist. His medical and business expertise, along with his love for his community makes him a vital part of the team. John has been with Play Well Play Safe since the beginning growing it into what is now: A driving force for good that can provide a wealth of support in bringing communities together in a healthier and happier way. John is very excited for his next big move with Play Well Play Safe which will be bringing that same support and positive change to the Tooele area!
Born and raised in Utah, Monique has a deep love and understanding for her local community. Since a very early age, she has involved herself in serving her community in one form or another because it is simply what she loves to do! From seemingly small acts like lawn work for an elderly neighbor to organizing a shoe drive for the needy at her High School in 2014, she’s always found a way to serve her fellow Utahns. Monique recently moved to the beautiful Tooele area and is excited to bring her same passion and resolve to serve her local community. Monique spearheads our fundraising efforts, community service events and provides support to our Play Well Play Safe team. She is happy spending her days making the Tooele area an even more amazing, healthy and safe place to live, one act of service at a time.
As a beloved and long-time Spearhead Community Member of Tooele, Clint's support to the Play Well - Play Safe team has already helped us serve the youth of Tooele in a more effective and meaningful way. Clint is not only a valuable Board Of Directors Member, but he is also the Program Supervisor for the Tooele Education Foundation. The Tooele Education Foundation's mission is to promote and enhance excellence in education throughout the entire Tooele County School District. The care and work he puts in for the youth and their overall success in life are truly inspiring. We are excited to have him as a part of our team!
Eileen is the woman that seems to be able to do it all! She is not only a valuable member of our Board of Directors, but she is also the Community Liaison for Harmony Home Health & Hospice and a Spearhead Tooele Community Member. Her deep understanding and expertise of the people of Tooele come from many years of compassionate service to the community. We love how she eagerly and gladly takes action to fulfill the needs and desires of Tooele and are happy to have her on the team.