It’s a wintry March 9th at the Weston Recreation Arena. Mark DeMontis has the crowd he is talking to captivated, laughing, and applauding. He is a truly motivating and inspiring speaker. Today is another milestone for Mark. Today he launches the first of many learn to skate programs for the visually impaired here in his native Toronto, Canada. Working together with the Toronto District School Board, he has gathered a group of eager blind youth who are all ready to learn how to skate that afternoon. Mark looks eager to get out onto the ice as well.
Before getting out there on the ice though, he introduces and thanks Johnny Bower, former Toronto Maple Leafs goalie and a Hockey Hall of Fame inductee, who is in attendance to support Mark and his charity, Courage Canada. Mark also introduces his fellow Ice Owl teammates from Toronto’s own blind hockey team. Last but not least, there is the $40,000.00 sponsorship and partnership announcement between Accessible Media Inc., a nonprofit group that makes television and news print accessible to the visually and hearing impaired, and Mark’s Courage Canada.
Mark DeMontis has journeyed a long way since he was first diagnosed with Leber’s Optic Neuropathy, a condition that left him legally blind at the age of 17. Since then he has founded Courage Canada – Hockey for the Blind, a national charitable organization providing opportunities for the visually impaired to learn how to skate and play the game of hockey. The next milestone in Mark’s journey was the “Quest to the West”, when Mark inline skated from his hometown of Toronto across five provinces and 5,000 kilometres to Vancouver to raise funds for his organization. Now, Mark is already planning for another big milestone in his journey by inline skating from Halifax to Toronto. Today though he is here to teach some Toronto kids how to skate. Today he is here to help another generation of Canadians find their love for skating.