Canadian Blind Hockey Founder Mark DeMontis wins NHL’s Prestigious Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award in Canada 

June 14, 2024, Toronto, ON – Canadian Blind Hockey is thrilled to share that Canadian Blind Hockey founder Mark DeMontis has won the NHL’s prestigious 2024 Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award! The award is presented annually “to an individual who –through the game of hockey – has positively impacted his or her community, culture or society”. 

As the winner of the award, Mark DeMontis has announced that his charity of choice is Canadian Blind Hockey which will receive $25,000 USD! We are beyond excited to share this news and put this amazing win toward more Blind Hockey programs & opportunities. 

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Mark to grow the sport over the past 15 years,” says Matt Morrow, Executive Director of Canadian Blind Hockey. “I am excited to see what ideas he comes up with over the next 15 years as he is one of the best ambassadors and visionaries the sport of Blind Hockey has ever known.”  

DeMontis is the founder of Canadian Blind Hockey and a member of the Canadian National Blind Hockey team. He is known for spending over a decade building the foundation for the Para sport of Blind Hockey across Canada and around the world. He is one of Canada’s leading business accessibility strategists and has over 15-years’ experience making organizations products, services and experiences more accessible for consumers and workers with disabilities. 

“The most gratifying thing has been seeing the impact, first-hand, especially with youngsters and their families,” DeMontis said. “It’s always been a goal of mine to show blind or partially sighted youth across the country, and around the world for that matter, that Blind Hockey not only existed, but that they could participate despite their disability.” 

In addition to bringing recreational Blind Hockey to children and youth, Mark and his Team Canada teammates also continue to dream even bigger of representing Canada on the world stage. Canadian Blind Hockey is working towards creating the first World Championships for Blind Hockey and paving the pathway to eventual inclusion in the Winter Paralympic Games.  

DeMontis will be heading to the NHL Awards in Las Vegas to accept the award on June 27. 

Thank you image, mark demontis holds his hockey stick, 3 images of him appear in the background