Travis Ricks. Travis Ricks, an amputee for 11 years, brings us a story of profound resilience. Diagnosed with cancer at 17, he had his knee replaced, and he underwent chemotherapy, which eventually cured his cancer. Four years later, he developed recurring staph infections in his knee, which required repeated surgeries. Over time, doctors informed him that the scar tissue in the knee was simply not holding up, and with the support of his medical team, in 2003 Travis made the decision to amputate.
Travis had been a dedicated wrestler in high school and, as he put it, the leg amputation sent him into a black hole. But when Travis was 23 years old, his mom made a life-changing discovery online””It turned out that John Mabry, one of the staff members at the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), lived just three blocks from their home in San Diego. Travis and John met, which signified a turning point for Travis. His relationship with John became an extremely fulfilling one, giving Travis renewed courage and determination to fulfill his dreams. Travis soon started working as a volunteer and mentor with CAF.
Today, as Senior Programs Manager and Athlete Relations at CAF, Travis is very active in the foundation’s mentoring program. He travels far and wide to lead clinics and outreach programs at camps and competitions, empowering amputees with the knowledge and skills to embrace and realize their potential as athletes. He especially loves working with kids, helping young people with disabilities learn how to run and play sports with joy and success.
And Travis continues to be a star athlete in his own right; he is the libero””a defensive specialist position””on the United States Sitting Volleyball team, a team that’s making a strong run for the 2016 Paralympics Games in Rio de Janeiro. In 2011, Travis became the Tri2 National Champion at the USA Paratriathlon National Championships in New York City. “Coaching is my true passion,” notes Travis, and he continues to be involved in triathlons in a coaching capacity. And despite falling into a deep depression immediately after his amputation when he was 17 years old, Travis now holds the title of head coach for his high school wrestling team, a role and responsibility that bring him great joy.
In the case of his prosthetic leg cover, Travis explains that he’s “proud to be an amputee and show it off”. He says that UNYQ prosthetic leg covers afford him the perfect opportunity to do this and “build an extension of myself through the prosthetic, and not hide who I am.” When it came to offering his design input on his UNYQ prosthetic cover, Travis decided to riff on the look of old-fashioned wooden and leather legs. “I love it,” says Travis, “strangers now come up to me and tell me it’s cool. This is definitely the next step in prosthetics.” Here at UNYQ, we are extremely proud to work with Travis Ricks as he expresses himself with style, strength, and grace in the world, inspiring us all to rise to the occasion and live life to the fullest.