Remembering Travis Roy

Roy, who inspired millions and raised millions through his Travis Roy Foundation, passed away at the age of 45
Updated: Oct. 29, 2020 at 9:36 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Travis Roy, who inspired millions and raised millions through his Travis Roy Foundation, has passed away at the age of 45, leaving behind a legacy of determination, resiliency and hope in the face of adversity.

A family spokesperson says Roy died from complications of being a quadriplegic for 25 years, according to the Boston University alumni magazine. Roy, who split time between Boston and his family’s home in Colchester, was in Vermont when he died, with his family by his side.

Just over a week ago, October 20th, marked the 25th anniversary of the day Roy suffered an injury just 11 seconds into his first college hockey game at B-U that left him paralyzed from the neck down. He would devote his life to helping others who suffered similar injuries, establishing the Travis Roy Foundation in 1996.

In 2001, the Travis Roy Foundation Wiffle Ball Tournament at Little Fenway Essex was born. It started small, but continued to grow, with more teams and two more fields, Little Wrigley and Little Field of Dreams. By 2020, the event had raised over $6 million for spinal cord injury research and to help those who had suffered spinal cord injuries. The Tournament’s success never ceased to amaze Travis, as he told WCAX in this interview at the Tournament in 2017.

“All the way over I just said. ‘I just don’t know how to find words for this anymore’. Starting with my family and my friends that come, the people I’ve gotten to meet for this event. It’s gotten so big. It has this energy, it’s beautiful.", said Roy. "And it means more than I ever thought a Wiffle ball tournament certainly could. The lives, with the money, that we’ve touched. Both with our grants and the hope of the research. I don’t have the words anymore. I hate to use a copout like that, but I just wish more people would come out and see it and understand it and feel it. It’s the best weekend of the year and it really is in so many different ways.”

In that same interview, Roy discussed the real world impact the money raised has on those who have suffered spinal cord injuries.

“There’s significant pieces of adaptive equipment that insurance doesn’t cover.", said Roy. "And it changes those lives, not in a huge way, but in a way that just makes their lives a little bit better. If you give a computer to a teenager who was recently paralyzed, that’s just trying to get through high school, trying to go to college, those are the pieces of equipment that change lives. And the other thing is the hope part. The hope part always comes back to research for me.

For everyone who has taken part in the Tournament over the years, from organizers to players to volunteers to spectators, Travis, his example, his integrity and his compassion, has always been at the heart of what makes the event special. But Roy never missed an opportunity to turn that focus outward and aim it on the future and the impact that energy could have on improving the lives of others.

“You’d think this fundraiser was in downtown Manhattan or something to raise those kind of numbers and no we’re in a cowfield in Essex Vermont.”, Roy said in 2019. "And it just tells you the combination of bringing the right people to the right place and we’re gonna make a difference. We’re funding a lot of research, we’re gonna help out with a lot of adaptive grants and I’m excited to get back to the office to start spreading it and make differences in people’s lives with spinal cord injuries.”

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