Travis Flores is a philanthropist and award-winning author. We are lucky enough to know Travis through our mutual friend Shira Strongin from Sick Chicks, featured in episode 045.
Travis talks about how he first encountered the disability community when he was eight-years-old, when he first entered the hospital. He was diagnosed as having cystic fibrosis, but at that point, he seemed very healthy. He had trouble relating to other kids in the hospital with various forms of disability, so he did not make any meaningful connection with anyone in the community of people with disabilities.
Travis left the hospital and continued living the same life as before, but with the spectre of disability quietly haunting him. His personal recognition of what his CF diagnosis meant for him really struck him in his teenage years. By age 16, he had written a book about his journey with CF, and went on a book tour. He graduated from high school that same year, and got an undergraduate and graduate degree by the time he was 22. He felt a drive to accomplish as much as he could as soon as he could, since his future with the CF diagnosis was uncertain.
However, he realized that his personal achievements, though huge and important, weren’t the totality of life. Only when he was away at college and had just split up with his long-term girlfriend, did the barely-there spectre become an unmistakable bloated monster. He couldn’t hide from his disability any longer. He felt trapped. He realized that he was alone.
Travis found that in addition to his personal accomplishments, a way to fulfill the loneliness he felt was to jump headfirst into the disabled community, a group of people he spent his early teenage years trying to avoid. A big way he did that was by becoming a philanthropist, raising money for organizations such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the CF Foundation, and many others.