Herb Carnegie, who is regarded by many as the best Black player to never reach the NHL, will finally take his place among many of the League’s greats Monday when he is posthumously inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in the Builders category. Did you know a part of his incredible legacy was inspiring Mark DeMontis to found “Courage Canada Hockey for the Blind,” which would evolve into Canadian Blind Hockey as you know it today? Canadian Blind Hockey is thrilled to see Mr. Carnegie inducted into the HOF, and we look forward to continuing to work with our partners at the Carnegie Initiative for Inclusion and Acceptance in Hockey. Learn more below about Herb Carnegie and the important role he played in Blind Hockey history:
“Herb co-founded the Herbert H. Carnegie Future Aces Foundation in 1987 with his wife, Audrey, and daughter Bernice, with a mission to inspire youth to be confident and pursue education excellence.
The nonprofit organization has awarded more than $900,000 in scholarships to children across Canada. But Carnegie provided more than money to the foundation. He gave people hope.
Mark DeMontis was a foundation scholarship recipient and a promising AAA hockey player in Toronto at age 17 when a rare eye condition called Leber hereditary optic neuropathy took his sight.
Carnegie, who lost his sight due to glaucoma in his later years, bonded with DeMontis and invited him to tell his story to school students and organizations. Inspired by Carnegie and the Future Aces Creed, DeMontis founded Courage Canada in 2009 and traveled more than 3,100 miles from Toronto to Vancouver on in-line skates to raise funds and support for blind hockey programming for youth.
In 2016, the organization evolved into Canadian Blind Hockey, which provides programs for blind and partially sighted children and adults that include youth teams, development camps and tournaments.
“I still remember Herb always looking at me saying, ‘Mark, no matter what happens, keep the spark burning, keep the fire inside of you burning,'” DeMontis said. “Inspiring is an understatement. He saved and changed my life.”