December 27, 2011 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Travis Roy Foundation's New Challenge

by Avash Kalra/Staff Writer

The holidays traditionally encourage a spirit of giving. The Boston-based Travis Roy Foundation is hoping to give also — most notably, to those who have had something taken away.

With approximately 1.3 million people in the United States currently living with a spinal cord injury — and with an estimated 13,000 new injuries each year — the Travis Roy Foundation has funded $1.5 million in research since its inception in 1997, while also awarding $2.5 million in grants for adaptive equipment and vehicle and home modifications.

Now, in the final days of 2011, the Foundation — with its stated mission to "help others move forward" — is hoping to touch the lives of even more survivors of spinal cord injuries.

A generous donor has issued a $50,000 matching challenge for all donations made to the Travis Roy Foundation's Annual Appeal, between December 12th and December 31st of this year.

"The current economy has made raising money difficult," said Travis Roy, founder of the Travis Roy Foundation. "This $50,000 matching challenge is a special gift. Hopefully it will inspire people to make a donation or a larger gift than they had initially planned."

The Travis Roy Foundation is an organization that, as many college hockey fans know, represents an inspiring silver lining to an infamous on-ice tragedy. On October 20, 1995 — the night Boston University raised a national championship banner — freshman Travis Roy suffered significant damage to his spinal cord after crashing head first into the dashboards.

Said Roy to CHN in late 2010, 15 years after the incident, "I didn't really think much of it. I figured I'd fallen thousands of times, I'd get up on my hands and knees and get back in the game. And about as quickly as those thoughts went through my head, I realized that something was wrong, and my body was still. It was at that point I realized I was in big trouble."

The injury occurred just 11 seconds into Roy's first NCAA shift. The Yarmouth, Maine, native was instantly paralyzed but has since dedicated his life to helping others with spinal cord injuries — in the hopes of one day finding a cure.

"We've given out close to a million dollars in the last seven to eight years, and we're excited about that," said Roy in 2010. "It might be a little bit of a drop in the bucket in one sense, but at the same time, you never know which lab is going to come up with the big advancement. The more we can fund, the better off we're going to be."

The Annual Appeal plays an important role in funding the Travis Roy Foundation's mission of helping spinal cord injured survivors live more independent lives and funding critical spinal cord research. This past year, the Foundation has given grants to over 100 recipients totaling over $300,000 and awarded over $210,000 in research projects.

"Every letter we receive stems from a story filled with heartache and hardships, and each story comes from a deserving applicant," said Marge Oppold, Executive Director of the Travis Roy Foundation. "Our hope is to increase the number of grants we award each year and to alleviate the hardship experienced by individuals and their families."

This holiday season, the $50,000 matching challenge aims to achieve just that.

Donations can be made by visiting, or by mailing a check to the Travis Roy Foundation, c/o Hemenway & Barnes, 60 State Street, Boston, MA 02109.

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