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Courage Canada Year In Review Newsletter

Released Online: Tuesday June 1st, 2010

Quest A Success

On Friday October 16th 2009, Courage Canada Founder Mark DeMontis crossed the finish line at Riley Park Community Centre in Vancouver. Over 111 days, five provinces and five thousand kilometres, DeMontis and the team had completed the “Quest to the West” and had arrived at the final destination. DeMontis and his team were greeted by the Canadian Blind Sports Association, Vancouver Eclipse Blind Hockey Team, members of the Vancouver Parks Board and officials from the City of Vancouver, students with visual impairments, family, friends, fans and Vancouver media. With public donations and corporate sponsorship, the campaign raised $60 000 for Courage Canada’s blind hockey programs. The success of the quest became highly recognized by local and national media including Global National, CBC Hockey Night in Canada, CTV, Sun Media, Toronto Star and ReebokHockey.com. Mark and Courage Canada were also recognized at the Calgary Flames, Vancouver Cannucks and The Toronto Maple Leafs home games this past NHL season.

When arriving back in Toronto, Mark and the team were greeted by hundreds of people at Pearson International Airport. The team was overwhelmed by the level of support from those in attendance and felt truly at home. Mark and Courage Canada were recognized inside Toronto City Council, the Ontario Legislature and House of Commons and was congratulated by Lieutenant Governor David Onley. Since January 2010, Courage Canada has held learn to skate programs and off-ice leadership workshops beginning in British Coloumbia.

Matt Pelech (Calgary Flames) and Mark DeMontis at the PenGrowth Saddledome.

Alex Burrows (Vancouver Canucks) stands with Mark DeMontis and teamate Roberto Luongo at the GM Place.

Mark recevies a custom jersey from two former Leafs!

MPP of York South Weston Laura Albanese recognizes Mark DeMontis inside the Ontario Legislature at Queens Park, Toronto.

City Counsellor of York South Weston Frances Nunziata and Toronto Mayor David Miller recognize Mark at Toronto City Council.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and MPP of York South Weston Laura Albanese congratulate Mark on his efforts with Courage Canada.

Lieutenant Govenor David Onley and Mark DeMontis - Two big supporters of youth hockey in Canada.

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Skating Days

On January 12th 2010, Courage Canada held its first learn to skate program in Kelowna, BC. Courage Canada worked collaboratively with BC Blind sports, School District 23 and Vision teachers, to organize a skating day fieldtrip to Capital News Centre for students with visual-impairments from across the Okanogan Valley. These students also had the opportunity to hear Mark’s story and learn more about Courage Canada’s skating programs. The event was a huge success and many of these students with various degrees of visual impairments had found the courage to take to the ice for their first time. The field trip also gave the students the chance to interact with one another, meet new friends and enjoy the experience at the rink.

On Monday, April 12th 2010, Courage Canada organized another learn-to-skate program and leadership workshop at Fleetwood Arena in Surrey, BC. The organization worked as a team with BC Blind sports, players from the Vancouver Eclipse Blind Hockey Team, the Surrey District School Board, Vision teachers and the Gilchrist Lion’s Club. Students with visual impairments from the across the Surrey District School Board were able to participate in the on-ice experience program and off-ice Leadership workshop. Again these students were able to find the confidence to try something new even despite their unique situations (Surrey Leader - Finding Courage on Ice). Courage Canada looks forward to continuing its programs with BC district school boards and is in the process of organizing learn to skate programs in both Toronto and Montreal starting this coming fall.

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Sponsor Appreciation Event

On Friday, March 5th 2010 Mark DeMontis was named one of forty torch bearers to carry the Paralympic Torch at City Hall in downtown Toronto. Mark, who was nominated by Samsung Canada, inline-skated the Paralympic Torch through Nathan Phillips Square in front of hundreds of supporters, including family, friends, fans and Toronto Media, including CTV News and InsideToronto.com, and was recognized for his efforts with Courage Canada and blind hockey. Later that afternoon Courage Canada held its Sponsor Appreciation Event inside the Esso Theatre at the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The event brought Courage Canada’s corporate sponsors together and formally thanked them for their ongoing contributions to the organization. Key note speakers included Hockey legend Ron Ellis, Toronto City Councillor George Mammolitti and Mark DeMontis. All sponsors received a certificate and medallion with one of Mark’s wheels from his quest and a photo taken with the 2010 Paralympic torch bearer. Courage Canada also revealed a new one piece composite stick manufactured by Trilage Hockey. They also revealed never-before-seen footage in the “Quest to the West Highlights” video produced by PhillyD Films featuring the song “Hard Road” by Canadian artist Sam Roberts.

Mark and Courage Canada’s vice president Cameron Williams and director of finance Paolo Abate, surprisingly announced Courage Canada’s next inline-skate campaign for the fall of 2011, entitled Mark DeMontis' Tour 2 Toronto. To close the event, guests were entertained by Quest to the West feature musician and full-time recording artist John Tayles who performed the campaign’s feature song “I Am Here.” At the end of the event Samsung Canada had surprised Mark by taking him to Wayne Gretzky’s restaurant at 99 Blue Jays Way where he was able to share his biggest accomplishment with his hero, The Great One.

Quest to the West Highlights - 'Hard Road' by Sam Roberts (a PhillyD Film)

Mark DeMontis proudly holds the Paralympic Torch infront of supporters in Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto.

Mark DeMontis and hockey legend Ron Ellis at The Hockey Hall of Fame.

Mark DeMontis shares his biggest accomplishment with his heroes Wayne and Walter Gretzky.

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2010 Paralympic Games

The 2010 Paralympic Games were held in Vancouver from March 12 to March 21th. International Paralympic athletes competed in multi-sport events against other athletes with physical disabilities. During the day of opening ceremonies The Canadian Blind Sports Association hosted a blind hockey demo at Robson Square in downtown Vancouver. Members from the Vancouver Eclipse Blind Hockey Team and Courage Canada’s Mark DeMontis had the chance to showcase Canadian blind hockey to hundreds in attendance including officials from National Paralympic committees. Courage Canada was able to raise awareness about its blind hockey programs to other blind athletes and various Vancouver media outlets. The on-ice showcase was very well received by the many who cheered on the blind hockey players participating.

Many had never seen or heard of blind hockey and were extremely taken aback by its level of play and competitiveness. A special thank you to Best Western Chateau Granville for hosting Mark and the Courage Canada team during their stay at the Paralympic games. During the Paralympic games, both Shaw TV and Yahoo Sports covered Courage Canada's vision for the future of international blind hockey.

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Défi Sportif

World unique, the Défi sportif is an international event that assembles athletes from the elite and newcomers, with all types of disabilities. From April 27 to May 2, 2010, the 27th Annual Défi sportif Tournament brought together over 3,200 athletes from about 20 countries, who faced each other in fourteen sports with the support of over 900 volunteers. The Montreal Hiboux and Toronto Ice Owls blind-hockey teams participated in a three game showcase tournament, a part of the events of Défi Sportif. The event was a great opportunity to raise more awareness for the sport of blind-hockey to international countries and Défi Sportif althletes.

As a part of Courage Canada's "Funding for Recreation" assistance program, the orginization sponsored the Toronto Ice Owls transportation via Coach Canada to and from Montreal, Quebec. The Toronto Ice Owls blind-hockey club was very appreciative of the sponsorship and without the support of Courage Canada's corporate sponsors, the Ice Owls would have been unable to participate in this international sporting experience. A special thank-you to Defi Sportif Officials, Canadian Blind Sports Association and members of The Montreal Hiboux.

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Upcoming events

  • Courage Canada supports the 4th annual Walter Gretzky Street Hockey Tournament The Brantford Hockeyfest held June 4th, 5th and 6th and Lion's Park, proceeds going to the CNIB.

  • Minneota Charity Golf Tournament held June 11th, 12th and 13th in Minneota Manitoba, proceeds going to Courage Canada.

  • PARTYLICIOUS - Courage Canada fundraiser at JUMP Cafe in Toronto, held August 14th, proceeds going to Courage Canada. Ticket info coming soon.

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Thank You

Courage Canada would like to thank all its supporters for their on-going contributions to the growth of blind youth hockey in Canada. The 2009-2010 year surpassed all expections and was a great success thanks to everyone who has donated both their time, in-kind or finacially to the cause. On behalf of Courage Canada, Mark DeMontis would personally like to thank all those who have volunteered, the wonderful support from Lions Clubs accross Canada, The Canadian Blind Sports Association, as well as each and every one of you who has shown on-going support to the organization and its goals.

Mark would also like to thank tall schools for their incredible letters of support and fundraising initiatives inside their communities: Weston Memorial Junior Public School, Pelmo Park Public School, CR Marchant Middle School, York Memorial Collegiate Institute, Kenzington Junior Public School, Keele Street Public School and Rose Valley Elementary School. A special thank-you goes out to Courage Canada lead supporter, Ottawa Senators owner Mr. Eugene Melnyk and an extra special thank you to all the youth and adults who are visually impaired, who are finding the courage to strap on their skates, helping Courage Canada's vision come true one stride at a time.

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