Hockey player who overcame tragedy to become advocate for spinal cord research to speak at Fairfield University Dec. 9


A young man whose life-long dream to play hockey was cut short by a tragic accident in 1995, just seconds into his first collegiate game as a member of an NCAA Men’s Hockey Championship team, will speak at Fairfield University on Tuesday, Dec. 9 at 8 p.m. in the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. Travis Roy will present “In the Blink of an Eye” which focuses on “redefining purpose, direction, and hope in the face of unforeseen circumstance.” Admission is $10.

In those fateful few seconds when a freak accident drove Travis Roy into the boards at Boston University, his fourth and fifth cervical vertebra were cracked, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. The grit and will that had propelled him to win a place on the champion Boston University hockey team became the engine that would help him persevere and defy the odds in his recovery.

With an intense rehabilitation regime, he regained some movement in his right arm. Less than a year after his accident he returned to Boston University; four years later, he graduated with a degree in Communications.

In 1997, Travis wrote his autobiography with Sports Illustrated’s E.M. Swift. Titled “Eleven Seconds,” the book chronicles his accident, his rehabilitation, and his triumph over personal tragedy. “Eleven Seconds” was recently updated with an Afterword Chapter and is currently in its sixth printing.

In over a half-century of BU Ice Hockey, the team has produced All-Americans, Olympians and NHL professionals, but only one jersey has ever been retired. On October 30, 1999, Travis Roy’s #24 was hoisted to the rafters of Walter Brown Arena and retired from play.

From the very start of his ordeal, Travis says he enjoyed the support of a close-knit family and a legion of friends. As his struggle became national news, an entire country became his fan club - cheering him on as he adjusted to daily life and rooting for him when he established the Travis Roy Foundation, that focuses on finding a cure for spinal cord injuries and provides grants to help spinal cord survivors purchase costly adaptive equipment.

A spokesperson and advocate for spinal cord research, Travis has spoken at a variety of events, including testifying at a Senate Committee hearing for the National Institute of Health in Washington, D.C.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on November 19, 2008

Vol. 41, No. 138