30 Oct TRAVIS ROY, FOREVER FRIEND OF SLAMT1D AND TRANSCENDANT INSPIRATION TO MANY FACING UNFORESEEN CHALLENGES, LEFT US TOO EARLY AT 45
Travis Roy, who for 11 seconds in 1995 lived his dream of playing hockey at Boston University until a tragic, paralyzing crash into the boards changed his and his family’s life forever, passed away this week here in Vermont due to complications from a procedure he needed to maintain his quality of life.
Travis, with the incredible support of his parents Lee and Brenda turned tragedy into hope, and improved lives for those who suffer from spinal cord injuries. Through the Travis Roy Foundation, millions of dollars have been raised for research grants and quality-of-life funding for so many.
He often said, “Sometimes we choose our challenges, and other times our challenges choose us.” Travis inspired and motivated us to face those challenges with joy and love, and to turn those challenges into opportunities for impact.
While much of our attention in these coming days will be paid to the life Travis lived on behalf of others, and rightly so, let’s also acknowledge the incredible love and sacrifice his parents Lee and Brenda exhibited as his primary caregivers AND as the behind-the-scenes Energizers they’ve been at the foundation.
They understand what parents of T1Ders go through every day. They know what “life-altering” means. For 25 years they’ve lived the daily grind, been in doctors’ offices afraid of the words they’ll hear, removed and replaced catheters three times a day, dressed him, changed him, cleaned him. The regimen continued, one day after another. They celebrated successes in their son’s battle, stood proudly in admiration as they watched Travis power through and to help others do the same. They yearned for a cure, yet worked tirelessly to help their son live a full life. They are kindred spirits with every parent of a T1Der. They “get it.” Lee and Brenda: Thank you.
The Travis Roy Foundation WIFFLE Ball Tournament at Little Fenway in Essex, Vermont was indeed the inspiration behind SLAMT1D’s annual tournament there and the numerous tournaments we’ve done from New England to Florida. Over the years, we’ve grown into one big family that goes beyond WIFFLE ball, spinal cord injuries and Type 1 diabetes. Many of us volunteer or play in both tournaments, and donate to both causes. We’ve worked together readying fields for play, making improvements, hauling debris and tamping parking lot ruts!
One key figure in everything we do WIFFLE (and so much more) is our own Dan Pion. If you’ve been to one of our tournaments, you’ve certainly seen Dan going from one place to another, updating team power rankings, clarifying a rule with an umpire or helping a team captain with a roster issue. Dan’s “going” is actually “wheeling”, as in a wheelchair. Dan is a quadriplegic. He recently said he wouldn’t be where he is now without Travis Roy.
“I met Travis for the first time in August of 2008. I had recently suffered a spinal cord accident that paralyzed me. I was now a quadriplegic; my life was changed forever. At that time, I needed to make some decisions about where to do my rehab. While my insurance covered the cost at most of rehab centers I could attend, it didn’t cover the transportation cost to get there. That isn’t cheap! Travis had heard about my accident and my situation through a mutual friend. He visited me in the hospital, told me to only worry about healing and to let him worry about the cost of the medical transportation. The next day he called and told me that the Travis Roy Foundation would cover the full the cost of a medevac flight from Burlington to Atlanta, GA, where I could do my rehab at the Shepherd Center, one of the top rehabilitation centers in the country. I know that my time at Shepherd enabled me to learn and do things I probably wouldn’t have learned elsewhere. It changed my life, and I know that without his help, I wouldn’t be where I am today. He made my world a better place, and I’ll miss him.”
Rest in peace, Travis Roy. You’ll live on in all we do.