Tillman's character drew Golden to Cornerstone Foundation
February 20th, 2013
When Chicago area businessman John Golden was looking for a charitable organization to get involved with, he found the perfect fit in Charles Tillman’s Cornerstone Foundation.
“I’ve met a lot of athletes and what always impressed me with Charles is he’s a person who really cares and he’s a quality individual,” Golden said of the Bears cornerback. “You get asked to help do a lot of things. I chose Charles just based on the character of who he is as a person.”
As a member of the Cornerstone Foundation’s executive board, Golden helps with fundraising, networking and raising awareness for the organization, which Tillman created in 2005.
The charity initially began by providing children with educational opportunities and resources to excel in the classroom. But after Tillman’s three-month-old daughter, Tiana, was diagnosed with a rare heart condition and received a life-saving heart transplant in 2008, the Cornerstone Foundation’s mission was changed to improving the lives of critically and chronically ill children.
Two of Golden’s favorite events conducted by the charity are the holiday party, where Tillman and his wife Jackie visit a local hospital to pass out gifts, visit with families and partake in activities to help spread holiday cheer; and the “TendHER Heart” luncheon, which honors mothers of sick children for the sacrifices they make in caring for their kids.
“Here are people who are in a very difficult situation in that they have to commit so much time to their kids who are sick,” Golden said. “You can’t make their kids healthy. You’d love to be able to do that. But if you can help people, if you can just give them a little bit of joy, it means a lot.”
Tillman is also very committed to helping the men and women who serve our country. The son of a retired Army sergeant, he was recently presented with the NFL’s 2012 Salute to Service Award, which recognizes those who honor and support members of the military community.
One experience Golden will never forget was the eight-day USO-sponsored trip he took in 2010 with Tillman and New York Giants center Shaun O’Hara to visit troops in Iraq and Kuwait. The trio traveled to Camp Buehring and Camp Virginia in Kuwait, spent three nights in Baghdad and flew over Saddam Hussein’s former palace in a Black Hawk helicopter.
Tillman and O’Hara signed autographs and posed for photos with service members during a meet-and-greet and dinner at Joint Base Balad in Iraq.
“It was an amazing experience for all three of us,” Golden said. “Some of the soldiers came up to us and said, ‘We’ve been on our tour of duty here for nine months and every day is like a Monday. Then when you guys showed up it felt like a Friday.’
“It was so nice to see how much they enjoyed us being out there. But it meant even more to us because they’re sacrificing so much for us and our country.”
Golden is president of Core Performance, a leader in proactive wellness that delivers measurable results through personalized and integrated programs for employees and corporations worldwide.
An avid outdoorsman, Golden underwent more than a dozen surgeries on his ailing knees following a college football injury. He then met Dr. Brian Cole, head of the Rush Cartilage Restoration Center, who performed a double transplant to replace cartilage in Golden’s knee and leg.
Golden has since climbed some of the world’s highest mountains. In 2009, he nearly reached the summit of Mount Everest before bad weather forced him to end his trek. Golden currently works with Dr. Cole via the LiveActive Fund to raise funds for orthopedic research and education.