Shayne Corson, born and raised in Barrie, played in the National Hockey League (NHL) for 19 seasons with the Montreal Canadiens, Edmonton Oilers, St. Louis Blues, Toronto Maple Leafs and the Dallas Stars.

Throughout his impressive career he captained three teams, won a Stanley Cup, played in three NHL All-Star games, and played for Team Canada at the Canada Cup, the World Junior Ice Hockey Championships and at the 1998 Winter Olympics.

Corson had his share of hockey glory and injuries: bumps, bruises, cuts and stitches, as well as a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis when he was 15. But there was another health battle quietly brewing. During the later stages of his career, Corson began suffering panic attacks – some so severe that at times he was completely immobilized.

“It’s very difficult for anyone who hasn’t dealt with panic attacks to understand the significant impact they have on your mind and body,” says Corson.

And for many people there remains a pervasive stigma around mental health. Talking about it is often very difficult, especially in the arena of professional sports.

But Corson understood how important it could be for someone of his celebrity to come forward and talk openly about his very human situation.

“I started to talk publicly about it a number of years ago,” says Corson, “because I wanted to share my story and let other people know help is available.”

For the eight years it has been running, Corson has participated in Hockey Night in Simcoe County. Coordinated by Barrie MP Patrick Brown, the star-studded annual event has now raised more than $1.2 million for RVH.

Corson was especially delighted to learn the proceeds from the event will be divided between the Simcoe Muskoka Regional Cancer Centre, and the future child and youth mental health inpatient unit at the health centre. There are currently no inpatient mental health services available to youth in North Simcoe Muskoka and as a result, children must be referred to facilities outside the region.

Both cancer care and mental health support are issues that touch Corson deeply.

“My family and I – mom June, sisters Patti and Shannon and brother-in-law (and fellow hockey legend) Darcy Tucker – have been long-time supporters of RVH,” says Corson.

“We began fundraising in memory of my dad, Paul, who passed away from throat cancer when he was just 45. In fact, a room at RVH has just been dedicated in my dad’s memory. We are going to continue to support the health centre and it feels really good to know that this year’s Hockey Night in Simcoe County game will not just benefit the cancer program, but also the mental health program as well.” Learn more about this event.