History

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HISTORY

2004 – 2005 Season

  • Courage Canada founder Mark DeMontis is diagnosed with Leber’s Optic Neuropathy and becomes legally blind, ending his AA hockey career and his dream of playing professional hockey.
  • Mark discovers the sport of Blind Hockey and joins the Toronto Ice Owls Blind Hockey Team.

2008 – 2009 Season

  • Mark DeMontis founds Courage Canada Hockey for the Blind so that youth who are blind or visually impaired have the same opportunity to learn to skate and play hockey that he did growing up.

2009 – 2010 Season

  • Mark inline-skates 5000 km from Toronto to Vancouver with a team of volunteers in his “Quest to the West” campaign in support of Courage Canada. Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk sponsors the campaign, and Courage Canada is officially launched.
  • Courage Canada uses funds from “Quest to the West” and establishes its first learn to skate programs for youth who are blind or visually impaired in Kelowna and Surrey BC. Over 20 youth get the opportunity to participate, many trying skating for the very first time.
  • Courage Canada sponsors the Toronto Ice Owls Blind Hockey Team to travel to Montreal and play an exhibition series at Defi Sportif against the Montreal Hiboux Blind Hockey Team and more than 20 players take part. The series serves as a catalyst for discussion about the sport, and the idea for an annual National Blind Hockey Tournament is born.

2010 – 2011 Season

  • Courage Canada doubles its learn to skate programs by adding Toronto ON, Montreal QC, and Halton ON to the existing BC programs – over 50 youth get the opportunity to skate and try Blind Hockey.
  • Courage Canada is instrumental in founding, funding, and organizing the inaugural Canadian Blind Hockey Tournament at the 2011 Defi Sportif in Montreal. Over 30 players from the Toronto Ice Owls, Montreal Hiboux, and Vancouver Eclipse play in a series of exhibition matches that help to unify the sport and the Canadian Blind Hockey Community.
  • The high demand for Courage Canada Youth Programs leads Mark DeMontis to decide to inline-skate 2000 km across the rest of the country in the “Halifax 2 Toronto” campaign in support of Courage Canada. AMI Accessible Media Inc. becomes the lead sponsor for the campaign which increases awareness and funding for the organization.

2011 – 2012 Season

  • Courage Canada acquires two key non-profit partners – Accessible Media Inc. (AMI) and the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), as well as equipment sponsor Sport Chek’s “Power of Sport for Kids” (POS4K), allowing us to greatly expand our operations.
  • Courage Canada creates National Program Director Position, hires first full-time staff.
  • Courage Canada brings our learn to skate programs to 11 cities in four provinces, and more than triples the number of participants from 2011 – over 150 youth participate!
  • Courage Canada sponsors and facilitates the 2nd annual Canadian Blind Hockey Tournament as part of the “Challenge Hivernal” in Quebec, QC. More than 30 players from Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver are drafted into two teams and compete in a competitive “best-of-three” series.

2012 – 2013 Season

  • AMI Accessible Media Inc. commits for three years to be the presenting partner of Courage Canada Hockey for the Blind through 2015, which allows the organization to continue to expand our school learn to skate programs and grow the annual National Blind Hockey Tournament.
  • Courage Canada continues expanding our national footprint by hosting our youth learn to skate programs in 15 cities across 5 Provinces!  232 youth participate over the course of the school year, and in our 4th year of programs Courage Canada has now impacted the lives of more than 325 unique children who are blind or visually impaired!
  • The ground-breaking “2013 Courage Canada National Blind Hockey Tournament presented by AMI” took place from February 15 – 17th at the new Mattamy Athletic Centre (Formerly Maple Leaf Gardens) in Toronto, ON.  This event was the first true Blind Hockey Tournament in the history of the sport, with 4 teams competing in both round-robin and medal games.  45 players came from Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa, Saskatoon, and even Indianapolis, USA!