Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Josh Cassidy is an Olympic Athlete and a cancer survivor. His passion, perseverance and attitude has inspired many around the world and at home.  We are so proud of Josh and we are honored to have him write this special blog post to share with you.  

My name is Josh Cassidy, and I want to go places.

One may think that would be difficult considering my obvious physical disadvantage. I was born with a rare type of cancer, neuroblastoma, located in the spine and abdomen. I was given a very low chance of survival, but I made it through. Luckily it only left my legs partially paralyzed. I actually don’t ever think about this, as this physical disability is no longer an obstacle for me.

Ever since I was a kid, I always dreamt ‘big’. I figured out how to conquer physical obstacles at a very early age. It helped me with my approach to overcome life obstacles in the way of achieving other goals. The goals which drive us, give us purpose, and with purpose, allows us to be happy with our lives.

I think something has to be said for the expression “I want to go places.” 

There is both a physical and metaphorical allocation which actually seems to go hand in hand with both of their intentions. It seems as though “going places” is often achieved by literally and physically travelling places. And travelling places actually helps us in our journey of “going places.”  Travelling the world broadens our knowledge, creativity, and personal growth through experiencing other cultures and meeting people with experiences different from our own.
And today, we can go places easier than ever before.

I have been fortunate enough to travel around the world for athletics competitions, doing what I love, which is racing.  I often don’t get much of a chance to sightsee, however just the idea of travelling to other places always gives a feeling of excitement and accomplishment. Off the top of my head, I’ve competed in Australia, Japan, China, Korea, the USA, the UK, Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, the Emirates… and it’s hard to pick a favourite.

“Going places”  by going places.

This past summer I was travelling to my main destination I’ve been aiming for, that place I was working hard for the past four years, the Olympic and Paralympic Games which were located in London.

I’ve trained 12 years since the early stages, and I have competed in one Paralympic Games so far. I had high hopes that year, but I learned quickly that I wasn’t quite in a position to medal yet. I took in the “Olympic experience”, and was proud of my accomplishment. Part of the joy I experienced was having some of my family there. My father, grandfather, brother, and girlfriend shared this milestone destination in my life. This was my highlight from Beijing. 

Four years later, flash forward to London. I’ve now been ranked top 5 in the world since 2008, and now beaten every competitor in the world at least two or three times. I was going to London for medals. And I wanted my whole family to make it this time, including my parents and all nine (9) younger siblings. Quite a goal to make happen considering the number of people and costs involved! 

Aeroplan came forward and assisted in the way they do best. Helping get people places. In this case, getting four family members to London to share this awesome experience with me.

The Games themselves were amazing, but the worst thing possible happened. I was sick and on antibiotics. It was extremely frustrating, and besides the physical disadvantage, it was quite the mental obstacle to overcome every day of competition. I gave everything, every race, believing in my ability. No matter what, the people who knew how hard I worked were there for me. And it gave me some satisfaction knowing they were having a lifetime experience themselves. 

My bad health in London was probably one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to deal with in my life. For a guy who takes action in order to make things happen, this situation was something I could not control. Although my mental game was at the most elite level, using mind over matter to believe in the “impossible,” it was still difficult. I probably did much better than I should have, however, it was not what I had imagined. 

“Letting go” became a huge lesson I would have to learn in the weeks following the Games. But that’s life. And sometimes all we can do is move forward to the next goal.

I’m now focusing on Rio, 2016. 

In the meantime, I will be going places in order to do so, for competition, and  for leisure. Preparing for the next Paralympic Games, broaden my personal life experience, and rebalance. That being said, Rome and Paris are both high on my “places-to-go” list to indulge my other passion, art.

It’s not so much the goals, it’s the journey which defines us.

Thanks Aeroplan, for helping people go places.

Thanks for sharing your stories and tips with us Josh!

You can follow Josh on Twitter @JoshCassidy84 and visit his website here 

One Response to “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

  1. Encham December 13, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

    Awesome man, I am also a Traveling fan per say, never gone on an big adventure thuogh, i am still quite just a young lad of the age of 17 with no one understanding what i wanna do, And so i found this channel, and i say thank ye for making it.Best channel of all time, thank you.have a good one, and congratulations on winning.-Daniel