I met a man just a few years back. An inspiring man. An extraordinary man. I personally had the honor of meeting him far from Boston at an art gallery exhibit opening. The then Edgewater Gallery / Stowe, in Stowe, VT. I knew of Travis Roy when he tragically headlined the news as a Boston University Freshman hockey player. A mere 11 seconds would dramatically change his life forever yet remarkably would not define him.
As reported in The New York Times on October 30, 2020. “After an awkward fall 11 seconds into his first Boston University game left him a quadriplegic, he dedicated his life to advocacy for similarly disabled people.
Travis Roy, who suffered a paralyzing injury just 11 seconds into his first hockey game for Boston University in 1995 and, as a philanthropist and motivational speaker, was revered by the sports world as an example of determination and courage, died on Thursday in a hospital outside Burlington, Vt. He was 45.”
I was an accepted artist in the Edgewater Gallery’s exhibit titled “Connections.” Travis Roy was one of the three jurors. Thrilled and honored I was to have a painting of my daughter’s ballet class accepted into the exhibit. We would make our way to Stowe for the opening. Our long-time best friends would join my husband and I for this event. The art in this beautiful Vermont gallery was stunning but there were a few pieces that stood above the rest. Daffodils caught my eye as they are my very favorite flower for a myriad of meaningful reasons. I wandered over to the floral pieces that shared the same artistic style noting the artist’s name. Travis Roy. We all have those moments when information takes our breath away and this was one. The florals were simply elegant. I imagined each flower exquisitely moving in nature. Remarkable. The paintings were created by Travis employing his mouth to navigate the paintbrush and move the paint while creating images I will not soon forget if ever.
The gallery was small but filled with all that is good. Travis greeted each of us with a smile and an offer of his right hand. I was ecstatic to shake his hand and thank him for my acceptance. We engaged in a lively conversation while meeting his school age art teacher from Maine who remained a close friend and instructor. Travis’s parents soon joined our conversation and I immediately understood why this man was so extraordinary. Travis’s grandmother sat just outside the gallery entrance chatting and holding court as we all could not get enough of this wonderful family. The exhibit and the evening a highlight in my artistic life but the experience of meeting and chatting with Travis Roy is virtually unparalleled. Awe inspiring in the evening’s magic.
Travis was and always will be an inspiration to countless people as he worked tirelessly to help those that suffer spinal cord injuries and their families through the Travis Roy Foundation ( https://www.travisroyfoundation.org). The very sad news of Travis’s death has impacted many and the reports rightfully focus on his accident and his philanthropy. I just wanted to take a moment and tell you something about the artist Travis Roy.
Sometimes in life you choose your challenges, other times the challenges choose you,” Roy would say, according to VanOrden. “And it’s what you do in the face of those challenges that defines who you are and what you’ll become.” Travis Roy’s sister Tobi VanOrden