The Passing of Travis Roy

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Creator: Boston Globe | Credit: Boston Globe via Getty Images

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Travis did so many little things and big things for so many people. This is gutting, really truly sad. Travis visited me when I was still in the hospital and has continued to be a big support in my recovery. Wow.”

— Denna Laing

October 29, 2020,  former hockey player Travis Roy passed away at the age of 45 after suffering medical complications from a previous procedure in September. Travis Roy was an advocate for those suffering from paralysis who was widely known for his charitable ways. To those who knew him, he was a fearless and kind-hearted man who helped bring awareness to conditions similar to his own. When he started his foundation, he made enough money to donate $150,000 a year to help fund the treatment of a 17-year old paralyzed boy. Because of his charitable acts, several people have been able to afford their treatments and have been able to live a happy life.

The tragedy leading to his death started at the age of 20, when Travis Roy got in a horrible accident eleven seconds into his first college hockey game, injuring his 4th vertebra and leaving him permanently paralyzed from the neck down and bound to a wheelchair. As a result of the incident, he founded the Travis Roy Foundation in 1997. Even with the struggles he received from his injuries, he earned a degree in communications and later became a motivational speaker. The story of Travis Roy is one filled with tragedy, yet it is an inspiration for those who have faced permanent injuries. 

Travis Roy was born April 17, 1975, in Augusta, Maine. Before his accident, he was a freshman at Boston University, striving to become a world-renowned hockey player. It only took those 11 seconds for his whole life to change, and for his lifelong dreams to dissipate before his eyes. But out of tragedy came an opportunity to help others. The Travis Roy Foundation helps raise awareness and funding for victims of paralysis and spinal issues.  For the duration of his life, he was known as an inspirational speaker who raised millions of dollars to support the research of paralysis.      

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Many people and organizations released statements supporting Travis Roy’s family and friends. After Roy’s passing, Boston University said, “It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the passing of Travis Roy. His story is the epitome of inspiration and courage, and he was a role model and a hero to so many people. Travis’s work and dedication towards helping fellow spinal cord-injury survivors is nothing short of amazing. His legacy will last forever, not just within the Boston University community but with the countless lives he has impacted worldwide. Our sincere thoughts are with his wonderful family as well as his vast support group of friends and colleagues.” Travis Roy’s father, Lee Roy, stated, “The little kid from Yarmouth, Maine, as Travis would say in his speech, made it. Unfortunately, it only lasted 11 seconds; but, as he said to me when I went down to the ice that night, ‘But Dad, I made it.’” As a response to the unexpected loss, Denna Laing tweeted, “Travis did so many little things and big things for so many people. This is gutting, really truly sad. Travis visited me when I was still in the hospital and has continued to be a big support in my recovery. Wow.” 

Travis Roy will be remembered as an encouraging figure in the hockey community. His ideas of helping those in need will forever impact the lives of millions. Even while severely injured, he never stopped believing in what he loved. Travis Roy impacted the lives of millions; and, because of his foundation, he will continue to help those who need it for many years to come.