An End to the 25 Year old struggle: Travis Roy, the Philanthropist, Dies at 45

Travis Roy
Travis Roy

Almost after 25 years of tragic life, the well-known Hockey player Travis Roy, the Maine native who was a constant inspiration to millions after he was paralyzed in his first college hockey game, died Thursday at the age of 45.

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The news about his death was confirmed by his brother-in-law, Keith VanOrden, who is acting as the family spokesman. He breathed his last at the University of Vermont Medical Center and the cause of his death was due to complications from a procedure he needed to maintain his quality of life.

Born in Augusta on April 17, 1975, Travis Roy was an American Hockey player, author and philanthropist. During his active career as a player, Roy slid headfirst into the boards just 11 seconds into his first shift for BU on Oct. 20, 1995. He cracked his fourth vertebra, which left him a quadriplegic. Roy had since regained movement in his right arm, which he used to control the joystick that maneuvered his wheelchair. From then on the life of Travis was taken to a new turn.

Travis Roy, the Hockey Player bids adieu.

But he never failed before his destiny. With his life on four wheels he continued to instill a glimmer of hope in many and served as a true inspiration for millions. In 1997, he started his baby step towards charity with the establishment of Travis Roy Foundation to help spinal cord injury survivors and to fund research for a cure. The foundation has helped more than 2,100 quadriplegics and paraplegics, and awarded nearly $5 million in grants toward spinal cord research, according to its website.Despite being tied to the wheelchair, he traveled across the country, speaking about his accident and his life and raising millions of dollars for spinal cord injury research.

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Five years ago, Roy was celebrated in a gala at Agganis Arena by BU and the city of Boston, which declared October 20 “Travis Roy Day.” VanOrden says Roy’s bond with BU remained strong. “It was always one of the most important places to him.” Also , for the 20th anniversary, Roy appeared on ESPN, and the Boston Bruins signed him to a one-day contract. Anonymous donors gave $2.5 million to create the Travis M. Roy Professorship at Sargent College. More recently, Roy received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at BU’s 2016 Commencement.

The social media is flooded with condolences for the loss of the legend. Travis Roy is survived by his father, Lee, and mother Brenda, as well as four nieces and nephews.