Having won Grey Cups and being awarded the Lou Marsh Trophy, Jon Cornish knows the ecstasy of success, as well as the hardships of arthritis pain.
Many people know Jon Cornish for the incredible athletic abilities that made him a Calgary fan-favourite as the star running back of the local Canadian Football League team, the Stampeders.
The two-time Grey Cup champion was also awarded the Lou Marsh Trophy in 2013, celebrating him as the top Canadian athlete of that year. That puts him in the same esteemed company as Terry Fox, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and most recently, Bianca Andreescu.
The New Westminster, B.C. native is grateful he was able to play for the same franchise throughout his nine-year pro career, until he retired in 2015.
"Calgary is home now. That’s where I want to be a positive member of my community."
And that he is. In 2013, when the city was dealing with massive floods, he personally donated $2,000 to help relieve the struggles of his fellow Calgarians.
That same philosophy is also why he’s also joining the Arthritis Society for Arthritis Awareness Month.
“I believe in paying things forward,” he says.
Cornish suffered a number of injuries as an athlete that have put him at high risk for arthritis.
In 2009, I tore many ligaments in my knee, some by up to 95 per cent. My cartilage was messed up. The medication worked but I really owe one to Dr. Jim Thorne and our therapist, Pat Clayton. They really helped me recover and keep playing through this injury for many years to come.”
Then in the Grey Cup’s West final of 2014, after entering the endzone for a crucial touchdown, Jon had to slightly modify his trajectory to avoid colliding with a photographer and a cart stationed just outside of the lines. His kneecap crashed into the vehicle as he was illegally tackled.
The week after that incident, in the Grey Cup final, his opponent set up different plays designed to stop his signature quick running. But it never manifested itself. They realized he was injured. Jon’s team nonetheless succeeded to win the ultimate honors.
The following season, in 2015, after a thumb injury and weighing the risks of the repeated assaults on his body from his opponents, Jon chose to hang up his cleats and call it a career. Today, he says his pain isn’t unbearable, but it creates some discomforts.
“I take my conditioning seriously; I have lost 35 pounds in recent years. I train and walk with my wife. Tai chi also really benefits me. All of this will help minimize the impacts of my injuries in the future. Plus, I feel real good now!”
And his goals for a positive impact in Calgary’s future go much further.
The 35-year-old now works as an investment advisor, with a goal to help people achieve financial wellness and peace of mind. He also recently co-founded the Calgary Black Chambers, a non-profit organization aiming to mentor and offer scholarships to minority youths of the city.
If you help others, your life will be easier. I want to give my clients and the kids we mentor the opportunity to invest in themselves.”
That sounds like sound advice.