This article was first published in February of 2019. We republish it here today in memory of Travis Roy.
More than 23 years after his accident, Travis Roy continues to inspire young adults. Travis Roy was on campus this week as The Winchendon School Speaker Series continued. Travis began his talk by acknowledging most of his audience hadn’t been born when he had his accident, but he told them, “at the time it was a pretty big news story around here.” A big news story indeed. Roy captured the hearts of Bostonians who have followed his story from that night on October 20th, 1995 until today. To set the scene, Roy played back a clip of the moment that changed his life.
In an absolutely still Faculty Hall, the 260 students, joined by faculty and staff, heard Roy describe how his life unraveled and how he was able to find purpose and meaning within his new reality. That reality came into focus months after the accident when he was in physical therapy. It was then he learned that as a Division One hockey player, he was covered by outstanding insurance, but the other patients at the facility were not. Why he wondered, couldn’t he take some of the thousands of dollars well-wishers sent him in the first weeks after his accident and help others who did not have his financial resources? And at that moment he was able to find a renewed purpose and the Travis Roy Foundation began.
Roy’s story, a remarkable tale of resilience, has less and less to do with that 11-second shift in 1995 and more to do with finding meaning and purpose in all the work we do. His message is finding a new generation who have embraced Roy, much to his surprise, and no one can take that away from him.
“Sometimes, we choose our challenges and dreams, and if we’re really lucky, we can reach them,” Roy said. “But there are other times in life when the challenges simply choose us, and it’s what we do in the face of the challenges that defines who we are. More often than not, the challenges choose you. But from sports and my teachers, I learned to never give up, no matter how bad things went. You always have to have the desire to get back up.” – Travis Roy