December 10, 2013

Conversation with High Riser Travis Ricks

By Liz Lang

All of our High Risers are in some way amazingly talented and have a drive to live an unstoppable lifestyle—Travis Ricks, especially. He was born in Pocatello, ID and is a current San Diego, CA resident. Ricks has always been a devoted athlete, while growing up he excelled as a college bound wrestler. Though he didn’t have a father figure around at this time, he attributes learning to be a good sportsman from his role model, his high school wrestling coach. At the age of 17 Ricks was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer, ultimately leading to the amputation of his right leg just above the knee by the time he was 23 years old.

Losing a leg didn’t stop Ricks from competing athletically. The physical disability eventually pushed Ricks to become a paratriathlete and a USA National Para-Volleyball player. The paralympic games are held for athletes with physical or intellectual disabilities. Ricks says, “I love the camaraderie that sports bring out in people. I truly enjoy friendly and competitive competition and the lifelong bonds that they create.” Though becoming an amputee was a tough transition, Ricks was lucky enough to find the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF).

The Challenged Athletes Foundation is a non-profit organization that provides admissions for training, competition, and equipment needs to people with disabilities. “CAF helped me get back to being an athlete again with their support and funding of a running leg. This led me to become a full time employee in the programs department setting up clinics for other challenged athletes. This also where I found out about and started competing in triathlons,” says Ricks. When it comes to training and race day, emotions usually range all over the board. For Ricks, “training for a triathlon is hard and very time consuming. Some days you just don’t want to put in the miles or the laps, but in the end when you finally compete and you do well it makes all the training and time spent well worth it!”

If Ricks was able to take a run with anyone, alive or dead, he’d choose Jim McLaren—the athlete whom the CAF was started for (he also had an amputated leg!). “It would be an honor to run with him, especially since he passed away before I got a chance to meet him.” A moment Rick is most proud of as an athlete was in 2011 when he won the USA Paratriathlon National Championships at the New York City Triathlon. Ricks says that his number one goal is to “make it to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games.” And, after a long hard day of racing, Ricks likes to enjoy a big juicy burger and a beer.