The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK


April 28, 2013

Enid golfer plays his way from a hospital bed to the world stage

ENID, Okla. — Trevin Ray has gone from fighting for his life to winning gold medals.

Nearly five years ago, Ray, an Enid native, received what he calls “the gift of life” and today, thanks to that gift  — a pancreas transplant — and along with a strong dose of self-determination, he is a gold medal winner with a chance now to compete for more gold, this time on the world’s stage.

Ray, 24, competed this past summer at the Transplant Games of America in Grand Rapids, Mich., as part of Team Oklahoma and took the gold medal as the top golfer in his age division (19-29), shooting a two-day total of 162 (82-80). That win qualified him for the 19th annual World Transplant Games in Durban, South Africa, that run from July 28 through Aug. 4, where he will compete as part of Team USA, and as one of 154 athletes from 55 countries.

Not bad for a guy who says at one time he was just “fighting to see the next day” as he battled a painful, debilitating disease.

“It’s just will power and the ability to fight through it,” Ray said. “You learn to live with it like any other disease.”

In this case it was chronic pancreatitis caused by a genetic gene mutation. It was a condition that derailed his prep football and basketball career at Enid High School, and at one time had him taking up to 50 pills per day after having his pancreas removed and having insulin delivered through a small pump in his stomach. He also was unable to digest food.

“At that time I was just fighting for my life and fighting to see the next day,” he said. “When I first got sick, my goal had been to play college football and basketball and when I realized that wasn’t possible, having that competitive edge within me still gave me my motivation.”

Despite being unable to play contact sports, he still practiced with the EHS golf team regularly.

In 2008 a donor became available and he decided to proceed with a pancreatic transplant that gave him a renewed lease and chance to lead a more normal life, even if there remain difficult moments.

“It’s challenging,” he said. “But we (transplant recipients) are given a second chance at life and feel really grateful to have that chance.”

But the medications required also suppress Ray’s immune system and have their share of side effects.

“It makes you feel tired and some weeks you feel bad or your energy is low,” he said. “But on the days when you have nausea or headaches, it’s easier to get through because you know you have been given this second chance.”

And it hasn’t stopped him from pursuing either his athletic or career objectives.

Ray, currently pursing a web development degree at Oklahoma City Community College, said he believes he stands a good chance at this summer’s World Transplant Games and has been working hard in the weeks leading up to the event.

“I have been training really hard, putting extra time into it,” he said. “My goal is to at least medal, and if everything goes well, I believe I can win a gold medal.”

But he has to get there first and to do that requires raising about $4,000, which he said covers air fare, lodging and meals. He said he is about 50 percent there as far as raising the total needed and has had success fundraising to businesses, through his church and individuals.

“It’s expensive because it’s in South Africa, but I’ve been really surprised at how well it’s (fundraising) been going,” he said.

Ray also sees a higher purpose to the games beyond the competition.

“But (the games) are really about raising awareness and showing what transplant recipients can accomplish,” he said. “It’s important to show that we are not just sick people who sit at home and do nothing.”

A particularly poignant moment for a transplant recipient is meeting the donor’s family, and it was no exception in Ray’s case either as he met the family of Jonathon, his donor, who was only one year older than Ray.

Ray got to meet Jonathan’s family at last year’s Transplant Games of America.

“It was pretty emotional,” he recalls. “I was happy to meet them and they were happy to meet me and see that I was able to enjoy life and participate in these games. They almost felt like they had another son again and were glad to be able to cheer me on ... that he was living through me.”

Ray said it’s important people check the organ donor box on their drivers’ license.

“Up to seven lives can be saved by being an organ donor,” Ray said.

And while not wanting his disease to be what defines him, he readily shares his story with others to hopefully inspire those in similar circumstances, especially young people.

“I like being an example,” Ray said. “I talk to kids all over the U.S. that go through similar stuff and hopefully they can say ‘look at him, he’s able to work and play sports again.’ It’s not the end of the world when you have to go through something like this.

“At a young age it’s a lot harder to cope with everything, and I tell kids I went through it and went through the crying and not wanting to be alive, and you can get through it too.”

Ray also said a spiritual connection has helped him in his journey.

“I just try to stay normal as possible and not have anybody feel sorry for me,” he said. “God put me through this because he knows I am a tough person and now I am a better person because of it. I would rather not had this happen of course, but am glad I went through it. He knew I was tough enough.”

Those wishing to contribute to help send Trevin Ray to the World Transplant Games in South Africa, can send a donation payable to LIFE SHARE OKLAHOMA with “Team USA” in the memo line, to 4017 Shiloh, Enid, OK 73703. Donations are tax deductible.

Text Only
  • Moving In? Indoor football coming back to Enid?

    Oklahoma City businessman Antwone Taulton and Enid Enforcers manager Mark Timberlake are in the early stages of a plan they hope will see the return of arena football in 2015 to Enid after an absence of more than 10 years. And if things progress as one league executive expects, an official announcement could be forthcoming in the near future.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • Morris Claiborne Claiborne wants to prove worth to Dallas

    Morris Claiborne had already told reporters he was ready to prove he was worthy of Dallas’ dramatic move up the draft board to get him with the sixth overall pick in 2012. He didn’t waste any time showing some urgency.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tim Tebow NCAA settles head-injury suit, will change rules

    The NCAA agreed on Tuesday to help athletes with head injuries in a proposed settlement of a class-action lawsuit that college sports’ governing body touted as a major step forward but that critics say doesn’t go nearly far enough.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • Attorney: OU's Mixon acted in self defense

    The attorney for Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon said the incident that left a 20-year-old female OU student with multiple facial fractures was a case of self-defense.

    July 29, 2014

  • OSU no longer faces APR restrictions

    NCAA officials say Oklahoma State’s football program no longer faces restrictions for the upcoming school year because its Academic Progress Rate has been amended.

    July 29, 2014

  • Radio-TV for 7-30-14

    July 29, 2014

  • Jeff Mullin mug 2012.jpg Rice's punishment hardly fit the crime

    Two games, just over 12 percent of the 16-game regular season. Two games for hitting a woman hard enough to knock her out cold.
    Rice said Monday he will not appeal his suspension, which could wind up costing him $529,411 in fines and salary. And why wouldn’t he? He must feel like he got off scot-free.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • SamBradfordpicturejpeg Bradford used to being at 'career crossroads'

    It’s become a rite of training camp for Sam Bradford.
    Every summer, he deals with the oversized burden of living up to getting picked first overall in 2010. The St. Louis Rams quarterback is not surprised that once again, he’s supposedly at a career crossroads.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • TU wins C-USA academic honor

    The University of Tulsa earned the 2013-14 Conference USA Institutional Excellence award by posting the highest grade point average during the 2013-14 academic year for all student athletes in conference-sponsored athletes, the school announced on Monday.

    July 28, 2014

  • Hixon added to West All-State football team

    July 28, 2014

Click here for NASCAR headlines
Sports Photos

Enid News & Eagle sports photos from the month of February 2014. Enjoy all the ENE photos with full access at