Rutland’s Courtney Collins and her family turned the famed Heartbreak Hill into Heartfelt Hill during Monday’s Boston Marathon.
When Collins reached Heartbreak Hill during mile 20 of the 26.2-mile race, her brother Patrick Collins began running beside her and yelling, “This is for Travis. This is for Travis...”
Travis is Travis Roy, the Boston University hockey player who was paralyzed 11 seconds into his first college hockey game.
He is Courtney’s cousin. Rutand’s Sandy Collins and Travis’ mother Brenda are sisters.
“Travis and I were close since I was 12 years old,” said Courtney, a 2001 Rutland High School graduate. “We were very close.”
The on-ice accident happened in 1995 and Travis Roy died in October of 2020.
Boston University will be honoring Travis Roy on Oct. 21 at Boston University’s Agganis Center and Courtney, along with all the members of the families, will be in attendance.
Courtney’s brothers Patrick and Brendan grew up idolizing their cousin. They wore Travis’s uniform No. 24 while playing hockey, Patrick at Connecticut College and Brendan at Holderness School in New Hampshire.
Courtney was the sibling who did not play hockey. She was a runner at Rutland High School — cross country in the fall, indoor track in the winter and outdoor track in the spring.
She had competed in the Vermont City Marathon in 2014 so the Boston Marathon seemed a natural way to pay tribute to her late cousin.
“I had wanted to run Boston for about a decade,” Courtney said.
She ran in Monday’s marathon under the banner of the Travis Roy Foundation, an organization that raises money for spinal cord research and grants. Collins was able to gain a great deal of sponsorship money, much of it from businesses in Rutland. She wound up raising more than $28,000 for the Foundation.
“The whole family was there. They gave me great support,” Collins said.
She trained hard for the race,running nearly every day and fighting through a calf injury. When she was unable to run, she would head to the pool at Pico and swim.
It was her third marathon.
She thought maybe it would be her last. Her thoughts on that changed a bit after the race.
“I had a purpose and when the race was over, I felt like I needed a whole other purpose,” Collins said.
It was an emotional Marathon Monday for the entire family.
“She said she broke down crying running past Travis’ apartment on Commonwealth Avenue,” said Tim Collins, Courtney’s father.
Then, Collins she crossed the finish line, she blew a kiss skyward to her beloved late cousin.
Travis’ parents Lee and Brenda also attended the race as did Travis’ sister Tobi.
Hockey runs deep in the Roy/Collins family.
Brendan Collins is the Director of Scouting for the recruiting service Neutral Zone.
Lee had a Hall of Fame career at the University of Vermont where he was the school’s first player to accrue career 100 points. He finished his career with 59 goals and 56 assists in just 67 games before graduating in 1968.
Courtney never gravitated toward hockey.
She chose running instead.
There must have been a reason. Then, on an emotional Monday that brought family members together and raised money for a great cause, everyone knew the reason.