October 20, 1995. The day that was supposed to be greatest of a young man’s life, drastically turned for the worst.
Travis Roy, who addressed NDSU students last Thursday in the Festival Concert Hall, was from Yarmouth, Maine, and loved hockey. It was his passion and his favorite thing in the whole world. He knew at a young age that this was what he wanted to do with his life. Nothing got him more excited than going to hockey practice and tipping the bag of pucks onto the ice.
Roy’s life goals were to be a collegiate hockey player, play in the NHL and earn a spot on the National Olympic team. He took the chance by transferring to a nearby boarding school to play youth hockey. He then accepted a scholarship offer to go play at Boston University.
His goal for the season was to be one of the four out of the six freshmen to play. When writing this goal, Roy knew one thing, “As a freshman you keep your mouth shut, bust your ass and prove that you belong here and hope that you get noticed.”
Roy only had 11 seconds to live his goal as a collegiate hockey player until a tragic neck injury cut his hockey career short. He crashed into the boards while partaking in his first shift two minutes into the game against the University of North Dakota. He went in for a check and his momentum brought him head first into the boards.
In the moment, he knew something was wrong. He could see his hand being moved, but he was not the one moving it and could not feel it been moved by the doctor. When his dad, who barely came down on the ice when he was hurt, said, “Come on Trav get up. Be tough. There’s a hockey game to be played.”
“I think that I am in big trouble. My neck hurts and I can’t feel it and I can’t move anything. But Dad I made it,” Roy responded to his dad.
It turned out that Roy broke his fourth and fifth cervical vertebrae from the top of his spinal cord, resulting in Roy becoming quadriplegic. His reality is that medical science has not yet figured out a way to connect the message from the brain to the muscles.
“That’s the challenge that chose me,” Roy stated. “You see, I believe that there is a time in which we choose our challenges and there’s other times where our challenges simply choose us. It’s what we do with those challenges that define who we are. More importantly, who we can hope to come.”
Roy had two options. Either he could be miserable or be happy — he still had so much to be thankful and live for. He still has the love and support from his friends and family, and even the people that he inspires when he gives his inspirational speeches.
When it comes to life be thankful for what you have for life is short and can change in an instant. When it does change — for better or worse — continue to be thankful. We all have so much to give in life and can inspire thousands of people. Life gives us many challenges that come in many different ways, only you can decide what steps you will take to beat those challenges and reach the goals that are put in front of you. Don’t be afraid to take a step at it and accomplish them.
Roy lives a happy life in Boston, Massachusetts. He continues to show his love for sports by going to sporting events and watching his favorite teams. He inspires people with special guest appearances all across the nation.
If a man who had all his dreams him taken away can still enjoy life, then we all should be grateful for what we have too.