September 30, 2011
Campaign aims to get visually-impaired hockey across Canada
By LARISSA CAHUTE, QMI Agency
OTTAWA - Blind hockey player, Mark DeMontis is hoping Ottawa’s visually impaired can have a chance at the national game.
DeMontis is the founder of Courage Canada, a charity helping the blind and visually impaired play hockey.
DeMontis is inline skating from Halifax to Toronto to raise awareness of his campaign. He stopped off at Ottawa City Hall Friday.
“We’re looking to work together with communities in the Ottawa region to ensure we can get Canada’s youth and adults who are visually impaired on the ice and in the game,” he said.
At the age of 17, DeMontis was on his way to a professional hockey career, until he was diagnosed with Leber’s Optic Neuropathy — a rare condition that left him legally blind.
So in 2009 he launched Courage Canada.
One of the organization’s goals is to develop blind hockey schools helping visually impaired children cope with their disability.
“It’s important that we give this equal opportunity to Canadians who are blind and visually impaired to get a shot at the nation’s game,” he said.
While blind hockey schools exist across the country, there are none in Ottawa.
“We’re going to learn more about the City of Ottawa and get the visually impaired here on the ice,” said DeMontis.
But Ottawa is still a special place for the hockey fan: It was Ottawa Senators owner, Eugene Melnyk who initially sponsored Courage Canada.
DeMontis’ awareness campaign will come to an end when he arrives in Toronto mid-October.