I apologize for the short notice here, but if you’d like to hear an inspirational speaker tonight, head over to the Hill School Center for the Arts. This comes from Cathy Skitko, Director of Communications.
On Thursday, February 7, at 7 p.m. in Hill’s Center For The Arts at 860 Beech Street, nationally-recognized motivational speaker Travis Roy will return to campus to address The Hill community for the second time. This event is free and open to the public.
In 1995, Roy was paralyzed in a freak hockey accident, but he has turned personal tragedy into a positive story with the creation of a nationally-recognized foundation created to help victims of spinal cord accidents. Roy first addressed The Hill community on January 26, 2010 as the speaker for that year’s school theme, “A Common Humanity.”
The Hill’s connection to Roy and the Travis Roy Foundation dates back to 2009-10, when the freshman class read his book, 11 Seconds, during that year’s winter break. The class sold Travis Roy Foundation wristbands as a fund raiser that year, with a goal of $800. Thanks to a matching gift from Rich Pentz, a 1999 graduate of The Hill who is friends with Roy’s brother-in-law, a total of $1,500 was raised. During Roy’s visit to campus, the class presented him with a check and announced that they had decided to “adopt” the foundation as an ongoing project during their four years at The Hill.
The class has held a fundraiser for the foundation in each of the three years since Roy’s initial visit to campus. In 2011, a “Photo Fair” in which favorite Hill teachers dressed up in a variety of costumes and posed for photos with students raised more than $2,000. The class decided to establish the Travis Roy Broomball Invitational in 2012. Broomball is a game played on an ice hockey rink with modified paddles serving as the “brooms,” a small rubber ball, and no ice skates. The inaugural tournament was a hit, with more than a dozen teams participating in the round-robin style tournament. This year’s tournament, which was held on Saturday, January 12, was equally successful. In all, the two broomball tournaments raised more than $3,500 for the foundation.
“Our class head in 2009 was very passionate about the foundation, and after reading 11 Seconds, I also became passionate about it,” said senior Molly Hopkins, who has been an active participant in organizing each event. “When he came to campus and spoke and we were able to meet him and put a face to the name and story, it made me and the other members of my grade feel a personal connection. We realized how important the Travis Roy Foundation is in helping people affected by spinal cord injuries, and we wanted to help contribute to the foundation.”
During his first visit to campus, Roy shared his tragic yet compelling story with the Hill community. He began his high school hockey career at North Yarmouth Academy in Maine, where his coach was Hill alumnus Kevin Potter ’85. In 1993, he transferred to Tabor Academy, a New England Division I prep hockey power, for his junior and senior years. After graduating from Tabor, Roy was set to continue his hockey career at Boston University.
The Terriers won the NCAA National Championship in 1995, and Roy was in uniform for his first collegiate game the night the University raised the championship banner. Just 11 seconds into his first shift of the game, a freak accident sent him into the boards head-first and broke his neck, paralyzing him from the neck-down.
Instead of passively accepting his fate, Roy decided to make the most of a difficult situation. Just two years after the accident, he and his family established the Travis Roy Foundation, a nonprofit organization that focuses on finding a cure for spinal cord injuries, and also gives financial grants to those affected by a spinal cord injury that are in need of financial assistance to purchase the equipment needed to live as independently as possible.