Travis Roy, 20 Years Later

Posted on March 7, 2016

$2.5 million gift will create the Travis M. Roy Professorship at Sargent College

By Amy Laskowski, Bostonia
Published in Winter/Spring 2016 Edition
View the original article here.

Exactly 20 years after the accident that left BU hockey player Travis Roy paralyzed from the neck down, he was celebrated by the city of Boston and by his alma mater. Roy appeared on ESPN, the Boston Bruins signed him to a one-day contract, and Mayor Marty Walsh declared October 20 “Travis Roy Day” in Boston.

That night, at a gala at Agganis Arena benefiting the foundation that bears his name, Roy (COM’00) also celebrated that his foundation had raised more than $6 million over the years—$1 million that night alone—to help those with spinal cord injuries lead independent lives by providing accessibility through wheelchairs, computers, and vehicle lifts. The Travis Roy Foundation also funds research with the hope that it will lead to a cure.

Early in the evening, Christopher Moore, dean of Sargent College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences, came to the stage to announce a surprise: a $2.5 million gift from a group of anonymous donors that will establish the Travis M. Roy Professorship in Rehabilitation Sciences at Sargent and provide the foundation with office space on campus and a $50,000 annual stipend toward staffing for the next 10 years.

On stage, dressed in khakis, a Terrier-red tie, and a suit coat, Roy reflected on his life.

“Twenty years ago tonight, I lived out my dream of playing Division I hockey,” said Roy, who had been recruited to play on BU’s defending national championship team in 1995. “The 11 seconds at Walter Brown Arena playing for Boston University were the best 11 seconds of my life.” In the 12th second, the freshman forward crashed headlong into the boards, shattering his fourth and fifth cervical vertebrae, severely damaging his spinal cord, and leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. Roy acknowledged that lying in the intensive care unit for two months, supported by a ventilator, he wondered if his life was worth living. He had no idea what being paralyzed meant and assumed he would live as a burden with his parents. But today, he said, his life has value.

“Once I decided I did want to live, I realized I could live according to the same values that made me successful before my accident,” he said. “My work on the Travis Roy Foundation alongside my friends and family has helped me create a life that is very rich, very much worth living….I feel so loved. I realize that my work is my new dream, and that’s what fuels me.”

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