RANGELEY, Maine — In October of 2020, the world lost Travis Roy. The Yarmouth, Maine native was paralyzed after crashing into the boards in his first 11 seconds of playing college hockey. He spent the last 25 years advocating for people with disabilities, fighting for a cure for paralysis, and encouraging compassionate behavior.
Now, one New Englander is looking to keep Roy's legacy alive as he aims to climb 25 of New England's highest ski mountains with the hopes of raising $25,000 for the Travis Roy Foundation.
"Everybody contributes in their own way, and this is my way to raise money and awareness and people have been very generous," said Allie Skelley, who just wrapped up climbing Sugarloaf and Saddleback on the same day Saturday.
Like Roy, Skelley also suffered a spinal cord injury while playing hockey for St. Lawrence College in 2002. Skelley is now the head hockey coach and the Director of Financial Aid at Portsmouth Abbey, a boarding school in Rhode Island, and has worked to raise money for the Travis Roy Foundation for years.
In 2014, Skelley ran the Boston Marathon to honor Roy and raised more than $10,000 for the Travis Roy Foundation. In 2016, he was the first person to paddleboard from one side of Lake Winnipesauke to the other, an 18-mile journey that helped raise more than $5,000.
Skelley, who is originally from Wolfeboro, NH, wants to keep Roy's legacy alive by using his mobility, pushing himself, and encouraging others to support the cause.
"I made a promise to myself, that I will do whatever I can, for as long as I can, to make sure that the Travis Roy Foundation continues its mission to help others move forward – helping spinal cord injury survivors and their families live more independent and hopeful lives. Every day when I wake up and my feet hit the floor, I know that I am lucky, and this is my opportunity to pay it forward with my mobility," said Skelley.
In addition to hiking Saddleback and Sugarloaf on Saturday, Skelley is also planning to hike Black Mountain. On Sunday, he will climb Mt. Abram and Sunday River.
He will also be hiking at Cannon, Loon, Wildcat, Waterville Valley, Attitash, Sunapee, Bretton Woods, Tenney, Gunstock, Ragged, Killington, Sugarbush, Smugglers Notch, Stowe, Jay Peak, Okemo, Burke, Stratton, Mad River, and Pico as part of his journey.
So far, Skelley has raised more than $5,000. His goal is to raise $25,000.
This is all ahead of the Travis Roy Foundation Wiffle Ball Tournament in Essex, Vermont in August. It's an annual event that hosts 32 teams from across the country, along with family and friends of Travis and the Travis Roy Foundation. In total, the foundation hopes to raise $1 million this year to support those battling paralysis and their families.