COURAGE CANADA BLOG

My Mentor - Chris Delaney
Like many university students who pusue their post-secondary education away from home, the experience of living on your own can be rather overwhelming at times. I, like many other students found this transition into the real world somewhat difficult especially after all I have been though. It was important for me to be close to friends and family and found it tough to feel comfortable around new faces and new places. My first two years of University were rough as I ran into numerous problems with the University system. I was learning how to advocate for adequate accomodations both scholastically and with accessibility. I faced several challenges with Professors trying to stress my limited capablities with my eye sight and inform them on what works best for me to get my best work done. It took no time for me to realize the life of a student with a disability in a post secondary institution was not going to be a walk in the park.

I was getting confused about my future including my career path and what exactly I wanted to do the rest of my life. This is obviously a common issue for many students seeking life's opportunities and confused about what path they should take. It came to a point where I was close to giving up. I was tired of nothing working for me.

One day the weirdest thing happened to me. I recieved a phone call from my aunt Rita, who is the Lifestyle/Food Editor for the Toronto Sun. She was telling me that she has someone she wants me to meet who has been trying to get in contact with me for quite some time. She had just written a feature on this individual - Chris Delaney who was in the mid stages of launching his new healthy ice cream product "YoPro."

I wasn't sure why he wanted to speak with me or what exactly this was all about. Delaney and his Co-Founder Amanda came to visit me in London the very next weekend. We went for lunch and Chris shared his personal story of how he too was diagnosed with Lebers at a young age. Our stories collided as he shared with me our similarities. Chris and Amanda noted that they had been trying to get in touch with me for a few years ever since my story went front page of the Toronto Sun in June of 2005. Delaney had a great childhood and even better teenage years as he was a talented football player for the Hamilton Jr. Ti-Cats and an ambitious fire fighter. He was being scouted by NCAA schools for football scholarships and then one day the Burlington Boy was told by doctors that he too would most likely never see perfectly again.

Here I was thinking no one in the whole world could ever understand what I was going through, but then one day I learned a huge life lesson...Just when you think no one can ever understand what you are going through...there really is someone out there in the world who has battled through very similar challenges.

Chris Delaney has continued to teach me about his story and his 1996 Vision Tour "Out of Sight" as he biked on a two seater with a friend from Victoria to New Foundland to raise money for Lebers Optic Neuropathy. He became an Ontario Champion for body building and is currently continuing to grow his business with his life partner and Colleague Amanda. Even despite what has happened to him he has maintained a positive attitude and has helped make a difference in the world around him.

We constantly send emails and phone each other to find out the latest in our lives as well as discuss my in-line skate journey happening this summer 2009. He provides me with valuable advice on how to prepare both mentally and physically including ideas regarding planning and preparation for our route, hospitality and ways of fundraising on the road.

There is no doubt that Courage Canada and my Quest to the West would never have come about without meeting Chris. He told me from the get-go to do what I love to do and be who I want to be. He told me that life will be tough at times and people will never fully understand. He has taught me how to be a better person, but most of all he's taught me to be me. Chris Delaney is my friend and whoever was responsible for him coming into my life at the right time...thanks...wherever you are.

I guess that's what life is about...meeting people and learning from one another. Next time you meet someone and they are willing to take the time to talk to you, all I can suggest is for you to take the time to listen because you never know what you just might learn.
Wed Nov 26 2008 @ 12:00am by Mark DeMontis

The Latest
This past weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Brock Uiniversity in St Catherines, Ontario. A fourth year Sport Management Leadership group organized a Ball Hockey Tournament with proceeds going to Courage Canada. In fact, the reason I found out about the event was from my close friend/ Vice President Cameron Williams who happened to be one of the students in this particular leadership course. My close friends Jason, Noah, Alex and I drove up to participate in the tourny...we were Team Courage Canada...ofcourse. The tournament raised $1,000 for Courage Canada. Amazing! It just shows what such hard work from uiiversity students can do. Everyone participating had a great time and were very supportive of the cause. I thought I would share this in my words for today!

One of the things I promised not to forget in this blog is to inform everyone about the official name of this in-line skate campaign. The campaign is called "Quest to the West." Im a fan! Probably because I made it. Last week my good pal JRak and I were out for sushi and we were brainstorming ideas and all of a sudden...we had a winner!

The journey is roughly seven months away. There is no doubt these months will fly by. I have been working on physical preparation since the early stages of Summer 2008. I have been working with my personal trainer Daryl Devonish over the course of the past few months in his downtown Torono studio. He has been pumping me up for this trip ever since I first told him about it. It reminds us of "Rocky" except for the fact that I won't be fighting anyone during my quest. Every day that goes by I mentally prepare for what the future has to bring this upcoming Summer.

With the snow falling and sun going down early, I've been finding it tough to enjoy much sun light, especially when it comes and go's . I have lately been overwhelmed with work and change of weather it was nice to recieve a phone call from my mentor to help me motivate myself for a new day...

My mentor Chris Delaney and I have a unqiue bond. Actually, without him this idea of in-line skating across Canada would never have come about. He has continued to mentally prepare me for my quest via numerous emails and phone conversations.

Chris Delaney and I have a lot in common. Tommorow I will share the story of this Burlington, Ontario native Chris Delaney and how he inspired me to lace up my skates and show the nation what I can do.

Stay tuned...
Mon Nov 24 2008 @ 10:10pm by Mark DeMontis

GOING WITH IT
Someone once told me that there are 3 types of people: People who THINK they can, people who KNOW they can, and people who have no idea what’s going on. Often times the main reason why people fail to make things happen is solely based on their lack of effort. People who struggle with many of their life endeavours forget that even mistakes can be a good thing! I find people are manipulated by society to think that mistakes are only bad. In fact, I would say a lot of my personal successes have been based on making mistakes and learning from them. Over time I’ve learned that conquering life’s goals is nothing but a game of trial and error. Sometimes things work and sometimes things just need to re-evaluated. I guess it’s true what they say: patience is a virtue. In order for one to accept a mistake as a lesson, they must be able to retain themselves from giving up. Just because you make a mistake doesn’t mean that you have failed at achieving your goals. What it actually means is that you just may need to take a different route than you previously anticipated to get to your goals. I am not ashamed to admit that I have taken several different routes to achieve my ambitions. Each route has provided me with a learning experience filled with a basket of do’s & don’ts. I view the do’s as strengths and the do not’s as weaknesses or things I need to improve on. One word that I feel really exemplifies preserving with your hopes and dreams is the word COURAGE. I really don’t know much about the history of the word such as its origin or intended meaning however, I do know without courage things that you strive for will not be in reached. I always wonder if courage is something that everyone has or something that you must go and find. Then I wonder if it’s something that you have to find, where do you search for it? Some naturally rise to the challenge, while others question their intentions.

At the age of 21, I can safely say that I have grown up faster than I thought I would. Challenges that I have faced in life have taught me that in order to have courage it its imperative that you have confidence. Confidence isn’t only about having a positive attitude or being sure of yourself, it’s also about the way you approach your decisions. If you are confident in your decision making, you’ll find it easier to locate courage. If you are not convinced that you will make the right decision, you will have an extremely difficult time finding courage because you will be unsure where to look. People ask me all the time “how are you so courageous?” I usually reply with a slight chuckle “it’s hard to answer that question”. People often say “I don’t know how you do it. If what happened to you, happened to me I don’t what I would do!” This remark makes me feel both proud and sad. Proud because I am being looked upon as a role model and sad because it hurts to know that people could just give up without even giving the obstacle a try. I believe it was Wayne Gretzky who once said “you will miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”; I guess you’re wondering how losing your sight could turn into an opportunity. When I was diagnosed at age 17 with Leber’s, I really only had two options. 1) give up or 2) Take this life altering condition as a chapter of my life that will become uniquely a part of me. Voices at the back of my head would simply say “go with it”. I would think “go with it? What is there to go for? I’ve lost everything”. After many hard days and rough patches on the road to my dreams, I would keep hearing “go with it” I always thought those voices in my head were my conscious. What I actually found out is that those voices were my heart telling me what to do. As a child I was always told to follow my heart because if I did anything would be possible! If the sky is the limit, why settle for the ground? I was put on this earth to be somebody just like everyone else… a friend, a brother, a son, a teacher. I learned that “go with it” meant to give this change a chance; I knew I had to be patient and take it one stride at a time to adjust to a new lifestyle. Similar to hockey, going with it one stride at a time is no different than having patience on the ice. On the ice you have to be confident, patient and courageous! Life, like hockey, is very fast-paced; time is constantly moving, and decisions need to be made, even when we least expect them. I guess life and hockey are similar; they’re both a game; game with different players and different places. These players and places vary in every chapter of your story. In my book, I control the chapters and I determine the outcome of the story!

On Saturday June 27th 2009, join my close friends and I as we enter the biggest game of our lives!

See you tomorrow!
Mon Nov 24 2008 @ 12:54am by Mark DeMontis

THE FIRST BLOG. COMING SOON. MONDAY NOVEMBER 24TH 2008.
Thanks for checking out my blog!
I will be blogging everyday starting Monday November 24th, 2008.
Stay tuned...

Thu Nov 20 2008 @ 1:02pm by Mark DeMontis

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