Aaron Loy: Meningitis Survivor and Inspiration to All

Zachary Grover, Staff Writer

Accountant Aaron Loy was just a regular incoming college freshman from California. He loved to surf, to be outdoors, and to hang around with friends. Loy even scored the winning goal to win the state title for the La Costa Canyon Boys Varsity Lacrosse Team his senior year.

    Man, he was in good spirits. That year, he arrived at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) a few days early to enjoy the last few days of summer before school started. Then, everything changed. The next few months would be etched into his mind forever.

   One day, later in that first semester, he was in the water on his surfboard, soaking in the sweet California sun. He was ready for some waves, but sadly, they never came. He went home, tackled some homework, and then went to take a nap. He was cold, but his dorm room wasn’t. He thought, “Maybe it is just the flu.” So, he put on a sweater, got under some blankets and fell asleep. He woke up in a cold sweat, threw on some gloves and a coat, and then went back to sleep, and skipped breakfast with his friends.

   That was the last thing he remembers. He was told later that his friends went looking for him after he was late to class, and found him with bruises all over his body. He was unresponsive. They took him to the ER, and if they had found him forty-five minutes later, he would have died. His family and friends came and visited, yet he didn’t know. He was in a coma for a week and after he awoke, he found out that he would need a double amputation because he had contracted Type B Meningitis. The amputation saved his life, but along with his legs, a little piece of him was gone forever.

      Loy couldn’t believe what was happening. “I was just too shocked to say anything. A rush of questions left me speechless,” he said. “Just a couple of weeks before, I was living with all my friends, going to college, biking and surfing every day, and having a blast on the weekends. It was tough.” The two-sport (soccer and lacrosse) CIF Champion from La Costa Canyon High had been ready for his next challenge. “I wanted to continue to play lacrosse at a higher level, and was looking forward to balancing that with all the other parts of college,” Loy said.

   With this massive change, he has had to work immensely hard just to get back to living a “normal” life. Loy has learned a lot on this wild journey. Many things he learned were things he had taken for granted before. “When I was sick, I remember that instead of getting upset at what I didn’t have, I would be very appreciative of the things I could still do,” he said.

   Loy found the sport of sled hockey a couple years ago, and he quickly knew it was perfect for him. “It gave me a purpose — to get in shape again — and it gave me a team sport I could finally compete in again,” he said. Sled hockey is the adapted version of ice hockey. Players sit in a bucket type sled with skate blades underneath it. They propel themselves using two small hockey sticks with medal picks on the bottom to dig into the ice. Loy plays on the same club team as other physically disabled athletes including myself and a former Mission Bay High School student. UC High Junior Jonah Doolittle was touched by the story. “To see that this happened to someone about my age, and that he has come back to live a successful and meaningful life is truly amazing and really inspirational,” he said.

  Loy has worked hard, and the work he did even before contracting meningitis has helped him get to where he is today. He is now a member of the United States Sled Hockey Development Team, with dreams of one day being a paralympic gold medalist. He has been on the go, and wants to continue living an active life. He doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon.