How JT and Nick Riewoldt’s post-footy feats are changing lives
AFL and NRL legends Nick Riewoldt and Johnathan Thurston were superstars of their respective codes as players. Now in retirement they’re equally as inspiring.
Former St Kilda champion Nick Riewoldt and ex-North Queensland Cowboys play-maker Johnathan Thurston were adored for their game-changing feats on the field in their day, but the work they’re committing themselves to since hanging up their boots is potentially life-changing.
Both Nick and Johnathan have dedicated their time after professional football to initiatives close to their heart.
In loving memory of Maddie Riewoldt
Nick and his family established Maddie Riewoldt’s Vision shortly after the death of his sister from a bone marrow failure syndrome in 2015.
Founded to fund medical research into finding a cure bone marrow failure syndromes, Nick is proud of the difference the organisation’s work has been able to contribute.
“We’ve seen some real tangible results,” Nick, who retired from playing in 2017, says.
“We’ve funded 15 research projects, established a centre for research excellence in bone marrow biology, and we’ve done work in genomics and are moving towards clinical trials and altered the outcomes of patients who’ve been misdiagnosed, or improved their treatment plans.
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“One little boy in particular for 18 months went undiagnosed – through the genomics fellowship that we funded, he was diagnosed, and now he’s had a bone marrow transplant and is in remission.
“So (we’re seeing) tangible, life-altering, life-saving work. It’s pretty significant. Out of a horrible situation it’s a pretty strong legacy.”
It’s pretty significant. Out of a horrible situation it’s a pretty strong legacy.
Inspiring young Aussies
After farewelling NRL at the end of the 2018 season, Johnathan, a proud aboriginal man, has focused more closely on his academy and helping young people, especially indigenous Australians, to access educational and vocational resources.
“I’m passionate about my culture, especially in the education space, and I really want to inspire the next generation of our culture through that space,” Johnathan says.
Launched at the start of 2018, the Johnathan Thurston Academy runs learning, community, employment and youth programs aimed at equipping young people with the skills, information and qualities to positively shape their future.
“We only launched in February (2018). We’ve got over 400 people full-time work around the country, so that’s most pleasing. It’s a proud moment when I think of that, but certainly the schoolchildren, they’re the ones I want to inspire to be the best person that they can be.
“If they are, they’re going to be better for their community, wherever they come from. We’ve got some really exciting times ahead.”
I’m passionate about my culture, especially in the education space, and I really want to inspire the next generation of our culture through that space.
Return to the grand stage
Footy fans will have the chance to see Johnathan and Nick’s skills with the football one more time on the respective AFL and NRL grand final days as part of Chemist Warehouse’s House of Finals campaign.
The two former captains are both stepping up to take a kick that could win $1 million for one lucky Chemist Warehouse shopper at each of the AFL and NRL grand finals.
While both Nick and Johnathan, who each have grand final experience, are well accustomed to high-pressure situations on the field, the potentially life-changing outcome of this one kick is not lost of them.
“I love a challenge, and it doesn’t get any bigger than kicking for a million bucks,” Johnathan says. “I’ve had some big kicks in my time but kicking for a million bucks will be quite fun. How cool would that be if I slot it? Obviously there’s a little bit of pressure, but I certainly back my ability so I’m excited about it.”
“It’s a great initiative, it’s potentially life-changing. I’d love to be able to nail it for them,” Nick says. “I’ve had shots after the siren before, but to be able to change someone’s life so significantly based on whether I execute a kick – there’s a bit of expectation and pressure there.”
Your chance to win $1 million
Throughout the House of Finals campaign this month, Chemist Warehouse shoppers can collect their free promotional AFL or NRL medallion when they purchase selected products from Swisse, Oral B, Ego QV and Schick.
There is a new medallion to collect each week, which shoppers then register online for the chance to go into a draw to win one of five double passes to the AFL Grand Final, or one of five double passes to the NRL Grand Final. One double pass winner at each grand final will be selected for the chance to win the major prize of $1 million towards a house on grand final day.
The campaign runs until September 22. Register your medallions at chemistwarehouse.com.au/houseoffinals.