Travis Roy Tells a Powerful Story for the Visions in Leadership Program
Travis Roy, the former Boston University hockey player whose career ended tragically in his first college game, was the featured speaker for the 3rd annual Visions in Leadership program on April 11. Sponsored by the QVCC Foundation, the Center for Bone & Joint Care, and Tri-State Rehabilitation & Sports Center, Roy spoke to students and staff in the morning, spent considerable time signing books, and then attended the evening reception before speaking to a spellbound crowd of Foundation members, supporters, and guests.
Roy, a native of Maine with a life-long love of hockey, had realized his dream of playing for a Division I hockey program, with hopes of moving on the National Hockey League. In an instant—11 seconds—it turned into an unexpected nightmare. Moments into his first collegiate game as a BU freshman, a freak accident drove the 20-year old Roy into the boards. A cracked fourth vertebra left him paralyzed from the neck down.
That fateful October night in 1995 signaled the death of one dream—but also the eventual rebirth of a special kind of hope. His story, a drama of courage, determination, and the power of love, would open up an astonishing new life for him. For, though imprisoned for months in a hospital bed, then confined to a wheelchair, Roy gradually found the grit and the will to reclaim for himself a fulfilling and productive life.
Roy did gain limited use of his right arm, but has recovered no movement since then. He returned to BU less than a year after his accident and four years later graduated with a degree in communications. He now lives in Boston and runs a foundation that gives grants for spinal cord injury research and equipment. He is the author of the book “Eleven Seconds” and makes a living working as a motivational speaker.
“In life there are times when we choose our challenges and other times when the challenges simply choose us,” he said. “The question is whether we conquer the challenges life presents us or surrender to them.”
In telling his story, Roy took the audience on an emotional journey that left everyone reflecting on their past, present, and future. After speaking for 45 minutes and taking questions from the audience, Roy was presented with a QVCC hat from Director of College Development Monique Wolanin, who helped the Foundation organize the Visions in Leadership program.
“Each of us in the room had a rare opportunity to really pause and take stock of how we choose to lead our lives,” said Wolanin. “Travis’ powerful messages about goal setting, working to achieve such goals, extending respect and kindnesses towards all and connecting emotionally with loved ones will remain with all of us who were fortunate enough to hear him.”
Roy’s powerful message resonated with students as well. “Travis Roy’s speech describing his tragic injury was one of the most compelling presentations I have ever heard,” said Nathan Hardt. “He told us about his struggles physically, mentally, and emotionally. His optimism amazed me. His willingness to face the challenges life has presented him with is so inspiring.”
QVCC President Ross Tomlin said it was a privilege for the college community as well as the local community to have Roy speak, noting that the auditorium was full both in the morning and evening. “His talk was inspiring and motivating, helping us all to put our lives and goals in perspective,” said Tomlin. “One important message I took away from his talk was the power of maintaining a positive attitude about yourself and life, even in the face of adversity.”