Philanthropist, motivational speaker, and hockey icon Travis Roy passed away Thursday, October 29th. He was 45 years old. Roy died due to complications that arose after a recent procedure. He had been living as a quadriplegic for the last 25 years of his life.
An incredible story
Growing up, Roy’s primary goal in life was to play collegiate hockey for a D1 program. In the fall of 1995, Roy was able to reach his dream.
Roy was a freshman on Boston University’s ice hockey team. Under legendary coach Jack Parker, BU was looking to repeat as NCAA Champions. Roy was able to make this unbelievably stacked roster. In the first game of the season, BU would host North Dakota at Walter Brown Arena.
On Roy’s first shift, he perused the puck in the corner and tried to deliver a hit. He then crashed awkwardly into the boards head first. Roy laid motionless on the ice as trainers and personal rushed over to help.
He was immediately taken to a hospital where doctors determined Roy cracked his fourth and fifth cervical vertebrate. He was paralyzed from the neck down. After just 11 seconds on the ice, Roy’s college hockey career was over and his life changed forever.
Making an impact
Roy was determined to make a positive impact on society, even though he was confined to a wheelchair. In 1997, he created the Travis Roy Foundation to raise money and awareness for those afflicted by spine injuries. The organization has raised over $4.7 million dollars in grants dedicated to spinal cord research.
Roy also touched millions of people’s souls by sharing his story. He would often come to cooperate events, schools, and colleges to discuss that fateful night and his awe-inspiring road to recovery.
With the help of Sports Illustrated E.M. Swift, Roy even published a book. In 1998, the 2 released “Eleven Seconds: A Story of Tragedy, Courage and Triumph”.
Then in October of 1999, BU Hockey honored Roy in a truly touching gesture. The program retired his number 24. The only other number in the rafters is Jack Parker’s 6, which is fitting as the 2 will forever be linked.
Roy’s story is nothing short of remarkable. He maid it a point to not feel sorry for himself. He did not peruse the pity of others. Instead, he decided to dedicate his life to a worthy cause and making positive impacts on people’s hearts.
People can define the term “greatness” in many ways. One way to describe that sentiment is doing your best when you have every reason not to. Nobody would have blamed Roy if he lived the rest of his life bitter and out of public view.
Instead, he saw his situation as a way to help and inspire others. That truly is admirable, in every sense of the word.
Gone but not forgotten
So many different communities will miss Roy; BU, Boston, New England Hockey, the countless number of people he inspired. His family should be proud of the legacy he leaves behind. As long as Boston University Hockey is played, the powerful story of Travis Roy will be told.
Story by Chad Jones
Follow Chad on Twitter @shutupchadjones