Many writers will attest that putting words on paper can be therapeutic. For Travis, writing became an outlet to build his legacy and see himself and other children through tough times.
“I was hospitalized with cystic fibrosis when I was eight years old and for the first time was meeting other kids with my condition,” said Travis. “So I started writing something that I could share with other sick kids to help us make sense of something scary and turn it into something positive.”
Travis’s story, The Spider Who Never Gave Up, follows the tribulations of Sparkey the Spider, a character created in his own image. The story lifted the spirits of his fellow patients at the hospital. When he had a chance to ask for a Make-A-Wish experience, Travis took a leap of faith and asked to get his book published.
“It was an extravagant wish, but when I saw how much it spoke to other sick kids and changed their perspectives on their situations, I wanted to try and extend that emotional connection to others going through tough times by publishing this story to a wider audience. I wanted to tell them that no matter what they were going through, everything would be okay.”
Now 23 years old with a master’s degree from New York University, Travis visits with children all over the country who are facing adversity, from poverty to illness to bullying. Each child he meets has found something vital in The Spider Who Never Gave Up, now celebrating its tenth year of publication, and what the story represents. Even though he is no longer a kid himself, Travis relates to the kids he meets. He feels that his age instills a sense of hope and offers proof of what one can grow up to accomplish despite limitations.
“I’m so grateful that these kids respond to the story,” said Travis. “There’s a deep understanding between myself and the kids I meet of what the other is going through, and what a great feeling that 10 years after its publication, Sparkey the Spider can still offer a positive outlook to others.”
Though he still deals with cystic fibrosis on a daily basis, Travis chooses to view his illness with a sense of purpose to help others through hard times. He reflects fondly on his experience with Make-A-Wish and the people who helped his wish come true.
“It’s emotional for me because I have been through a lot the last decade, and I have reached points in my health that were really scary,” said Travis. “But I think that this wish and the support of the Make-A-Wish Foundation has catapulted my belief that I am here for a purpose, and it pushes me through. Make-A-Wish definitely shaped who I am today and I can’t even put into words how grateful I am.”
Travis will appear as a character with cystic fibrosis in the upcoming feature film “Who’s Driving Doug.” The film stars RJ Mitte, Daphne Zuniga, Paloma Kwiatkowski and Ray William Johnson; it was written by Michael Carnick and produced by Katz/Carbonetta.