Travis Roy—a 20-year-old hockey player with a promising future—sustained a life-changing injury in October 1995. 11 seconds into his first game as a Freshman at Boston University, a freak accident drove him into the boards, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. It ended his career and changed his life forever.
As his accident 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, dedicated to research and one-on-one assistance for spinal injury cases.
Six years ago, after his dad suffered a spinal cord injury, Scott Litner launched the Travis Roy Hockey Classic. This event brings hockey players from all over the country to skate together at Madison Square Garden to honor and remember Travis while raising money for spinal cord injuries.
Dr. Randy Trumbower is the Executive Director of the Travis Roy Center for Enhancing Functional Independence and the Director of the INSPIRE Laboratory at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.
Lee Roy, Travis’s father, will also be joining us in this episode. They’ve turned the events in Travis’s life into some great work to help those affected by spinal cord injuries everywhere and work toward a cure.
You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in…
- Lee shares Travis’s story and how his passion became his purpose [5:23]
- Why Travis’s outlook after his injury resonated with others [10:42]
- Scott shares how the Travis Roy Hockey Classic came to be [14:00]
- Dr. Trumbower shares the mission of the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital [17:41]
- The future of spinal cord research and working toward a cure [21:17]
- How The Travis Roy Foundation became part of Spaulding [24:16]
- What can you do to support the mission of Spaulding [28:03]
- Learn more about supporting the Travis Roy Hockey Classic [30:16]
- What Lee hopes Travis’ legacy will teach others [32:22]
- What Dr. Trumbower, Scott, and Lee did today that brought them joy [34:27]
Scott shares how the Travis Roy Hockey Classic came to be
In 2005, Scott’s father was in an accident and needed emergency spinal cord fusion surgery. He spent several months at Spaulding undergoing physical therapy. But their lives were changed forever. Travis’s father needed 24/7 care.
After his dad left Spaulding, Scott wanted to get involved with a charity that would directly benefit those who survived spinal cord injuries. When Scott met Travis, he knew he wanted to get involved. Six years ago, he asked Travis if he could organize a game for his foundation at Madison Square Garden.
Dr. Trumbower shares the mission of the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital
The Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital is located in the heart of Boston and is home to extraordinary people who deliver compassionate care to those who’ve experienced catastrophic injuries. Spaulding treats over 300 people with spinal cord injuries each year.
Dr. Trumbower—who also had family members who endured spinal cord injuries—has embraced the mission to help people regain their independence after a spinal cord injury. Spaulding provides the resources to push forward with this mission.
When the foundation provided funding to create a new center at Spaulding in honor of Travis and his legacy, Dr. Trumbower was happy to be involved. Its sole purpose is to accelerate independence and improve the quality of life for those with injuries and their caregivers.
It was Travis’s wish that when he passed, the foundation would be shut down. Now that the Travis Roy Foundation has come to a close, fundraising efforts have shifted to Spaulding, who created a dedicated program for those with spinal cord injuries in Travis’ name.
The future of spinal cord research and working toward a cure
The field of spinal injury treatment is relatively new and Dr. Trumbower notes that there is tremendous hope for the future. Arriving at a cure is the ultimate goal. If you look at the breakthroughs in science, 80% have happened in the last 20 years. Imagine what the next 20 years will bring.
The current focus has been minimizing damage and providing therapies to restore what’s remaining. The center acknowledges that as they search for a cure, there needs to be an immediate impact on the individuals dealing with the daily struggles of paralysis. Targeted and personalized treatments that look at regrowth and repair are happening now and will continue to mature.
Why Travis’s outlook after his injury resonated with others
It’s impossible to find a picture of Travis without a big smile on his face. That smile broke barriers. His positive attitude was infectious. When you spent time with Travis, you left feeling better about yourself. People would find themselves thinking, if he can get through what he’s facing, then they could face the challenges in their lives and overcome them. How will his story inspire you to overcome challenges in your life?
Learn more about the Travis Roy Hockey Classic and what you can do to support the mission of Spaulding in this episode of Mitlin Money Mindset™!
Resources & People Mentioned
- Help Me Raise Funds for the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network!
- INSPIRE Lab
- Spaulding Rehabilitation Center
Connect with the Guests
- Travis Roy Foundation
- Dr. Randy Trumbower on Linkedin
- Dr. Randy Trumbower on Twitter
Scott Litner has over 20 years of financial services experience, working with professional athletes, entertainers, executives, money managers, private equity principals and high net worth families.
Scott holds a B.A. in International Relations with an emphasis in Economics from The University of Wisconsin at Madison. As a founder of the University’s “Badgers In Finance” alumni network, Scott hosts annual lectures on campus to help students prepare for careers in finance. Additionally, Scott hosts an annual charity hockey game at Madison Square Garden. For the past 5 years, this event has raised over $1 million for spinal cord research and adaptive equipment grants are given to spinal cord survivors.
Lee Roy (Travis’ father & Co-Founder)
Lee Roy says he could not have imagined that the Travis Roy Foundation would be where it is today when the family started the organization in 1996. He is very grateful for the time and dedication that so many gave during the Foundation’s establishment, and to those who have continued to support the Foundation with their resources, time and talent. Read More
He says that the purpose of the Foundation has always been to raise money for spinal cord injury survivors and research for a cure, but he is amazed at the level of professionalism that the numerous volunteers have brought to the organization. His favorite TRF fundraising event is the WIFFLE ball tournament because he believes it encapsulates the spirit of the organization. Each year the participants are thrilled with the feeling of competition for a good cause.
Brenda Roy (Travis’ mother & Co-Founder)
Brenda Roy credits so much of the Travis Roy Foundation’s success to Travis’ infectious spirit, which she says is not only an inspiration for those involved in the organization, but for her and Travis’ family as well. She says she is most proud of the way Travis has stepped up to provide leadership for the Foundation, and for his commitment and desire to give back in search for a cure. Read More
It means so much to her that after 19 years, so many people still care about Travis, and about finding a cure for spinal cord injuries. She most enjoys spending summers in Vermont with Travis, her daughter Tobi and her husband Keith, their four children, and a multitude of extended family.
Dr. Randy Trumbower
Randy Trumbower, P.T., Ph.D. is an Associate Professor and Associate Chair within Harvard Medical School’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. He also serves as Executive Director of the Travis Roy Center for Enhancing Functional Independence via Technologies (eFIT Center @Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital) and is the Director of the Spinal Cord Injury Division at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.
Dr. Trumbower earned M.S. and P.T. degrees in Physical Therapy from Duke University and M.S. and Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Connecticut. After postdoctoral training at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and Northwestern University, Dr. Trumbower became an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Rehabilitation Medicine and Biomedical Engineering at Emory University.
During his time at Emory, he maintained several affiliations, including Clinical Research Scientist at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia, Program Faculty in Applied Physiology and Robotics at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Training Faculty in the Neuroscience Graduate Program.
As Director of the INSPIRE Laboratory at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Dr. Trumbower leads a research team that focuses on identifying novel, complementary treatments to promote the restoration of limb function in persons with spinal cord injury (SCI). His interest is in developing therapeutics that trigger endogenous mechanisms of neural plasticity to restore functional movements after paralysis.
To study the physiological targets of motor recovery, Dr. Trumbower relies on a multidisciplinary research approach that utilizes quantitative techniques in clinical electrophysiology, pharmacology, and neuromechanics. Collectively, his clinical and research expertise provides a unique skill set for him to study underlying mechanisms of motor recovery after SCI.
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