Mark J. DeMontis
Founder, President & Spokesperson
Like many young Canadians, Mark DeMontis dreamed of playing in the National Hockey League. At the age of 17, he signed a one-year AAA hockey contract with hopes of playing in the NCAA on an athletic scholarship after high school. But just three months later, Mark’s dreams suddenly derailed after doctors told him he would never play hockey again. One week before his senior year of high school, Mark was diagnosed with Leber’s Optic Neuropathy — a rare condition that took away the central sight in both of his eyes, leaving him legally blind.
Mark didn’t let vision-loss in both his eyes stop him. He ended his senior year as the student council president and became one of 20 recipients from across Canada to receive the Terry Fox Humanitarian Award in 2005, which recognized his leadership within his community while overcoming adversity. The award gave him a full academic scholarship to the University of Western Ontario where he studied MPI – Media & The Public Interest.
At the age of 21, Mark founded Courage Canada, a national, registered charity with the goal to implement earn-to-skate programs and hockey schools for Canadians who are blind and visually-impaired. The following year in 2009, Mark ambitiously launched the organization by inline skating from his hometown, Toronto, across five provinces and 5,000 kilometres to Vancouver to raise funds and awareness for his cause. Mark’s campaign gained local and national media attention along the way, appearing on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada and Global National with Kevin Newman. The campaign raised over $60,000 and was sponsored by Ottawa Senators’ owner Eugene Melnyk and organizations such as NHL Diversity, Reebok, Tim Horton’s, Active Green & Ross and more.
Aside from Mark’s volunteer role as the President of Courage Canada, he is a professional youth and corporate speaker and a Spokesperson for Accessible Media Inc.