(CNN)Travis Roy grew up in Augusta, Maine. Many of his earliest memories are of playing hockey.
“I had been at the rink at 20 months old. My dad, he found a pair of skates small enough to fit on my toes. We went down to the rink, he laced them up and sat me down to the ice,” Roy recalled.
His dad was one of his coaches early on.
“There was just one rule, and it was always ‘Come on, get up. You’re not hurt,'” he recalled his dad saying.
As Roy got old, hockey became a big part of his life.
“I just always had this desire. How good could I be?” Roy stated. “Can I play in college? Can I play at the professionals a few day ?”
It was a Fantasy come true when Roy Got a scholarship to Boston University.
“At the time, they had been also the powerhouse in the nation, in the mid ’90s. They were also the defending national championship team,” he explained.
You will find six freshmen, but just four would dress at the first game.
“Coach (Jack) Parker let me know I will play at the first game,” he explained. “It was everything I could have hoped for.”
‘I will never forget that’
However, on October 20, 1995, Roy’s life changed forever.
“It had been the best day of my entire life and from the time it was, it turned to the worst,” he recalled. “By the time that they dropped the puck until the time that they blew the whistle, then it was 11 seconds .”
Roy skated onto the ice for the first time after his team scored. The opposing defenseman picked up the puck, and Roy went into produce a shoulder check.
“I lost my balance and fell head-first to the boards,” he explained. “It just basically drove my head into my shoulders. … I couldn’t feel anythingelse. I couldn’t move anything .”
Subsequent to the physician and trainers came onto the ice, Roy inquired if they could find his dad in the stands.
“It had been the same as always. It had been ‘Come on Trav, let’s go. There is a game to be played .’ Then he knelt down, and I said, ‘Dad, I am in big trouble .’ Then I said, ‘But Dad, I created it,'” he recalled. “It was the best 11 moments of my life to realize that dream .”
Almost instantly, Roy exploded his fourth and fifth cervical vertebrae.
“I knew I had been paralyzed probably prior to the first trainer got there,” he explained.
Roy spent six months at the hospital before Beginning rehab at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta.
“The rehab and recovery, it was dreary. It had been slow,” he explained. “I just have a small bit of the right bicep … but I had to make the best of what I’d.”
Finally Roy went back to Boston University, and earned his diploma in 2000.
“I figured I need to proceed and establish this brand new life, brand identity,” he explained.
From passion to function
When he was still at the hospital, Roy saw other families coping with paralysis.
“It turned out I had great insurance. There was money that had been lifted to fill in the blanks. Other families didn’t have any of this,” he explained. “This was when I thought maybe we can raise money and help cover some of these expenses for additional spinal cord injury survivors .”
Twenty Years Back, he started the Travis Roy Foundation. Half the money raised goes toward adaptive equipment grants and the other half goes toward research.
“I wanted to use the attention my story kept getting to help others,” he explained. “I needed the hope of a cure to be real. The only style that’s real is through funding.”
Since then, the organization has raised over $10 million and also assisted close to 1,500 individuals with spinal cord injuries.
“You provide a family the ideal lift … to get their husband, their wife, their daughter in and out of bed safely. It changes their existence,” he explained.
Along with his work at the foundation, Roy travels across the country as a motivational speaker. He also wrote a novel called “Eleven Seconds: A Story of Tragedy, Courage & Triumph.”
Roy, now 42, is still heartbroken over what could have been. But he describes living the first half of his life with passion and also the next half with intent.
“There are occasions when we choose our challenges … and there’s other occasions where the challenges only choose us. And it is what we do in the face of those challenges that actually determines who we are and more importantly who we can and will become.”