Travis J. Hilton
Travis J. Hilton

Travis J. Hilton became an eye and tissue donor upon his passing on November 10, 2012.

His mother, Jana Hoffman, shared this remembrance:

An amazing young man came into my life in 1992 – my son Travis. Sadly we only got to spend 20 years with him.

Trav loved camping, excelled at all sports, but soccer was his favorite. His athletic abilities were impressive – he could run up to a wall, jump in the air and do a back flip off of the wall. He was fearless since he was a toddler, jumping off the back of the couch, and in later years cliff diving.

He was an awesome big brother to Joey, who was almost 11 years younger. He had the typical younger sibling relationship with older sister Nicole (five and a half year difference). In the beginning, he always got into her stuff, and she liked to tie him up or stick him in the dryer. As they grew older they had a mutual respect and were very close – their interests became cohesive (same music and sports tastes) and they spent quality time together as often as they could since Nicole lived three hours away over the last 10 years.

Jana with her son Travis.
Jana with her son Travis.


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Travis with his brother Joey and sister Nicole.

Trav had many friends, 20 of whom made the 10 hour round trip from the Albany area for the funeral. He was very well liked among the student body of his entire high school. Trav’s love for sports and two inspirational gym teachers lead him to pursue a career as a gym teacher. He grew up in the East Greenbush area and attended Jamestown Community college, like I did. He stayed with his dad while in school and that gave him a chance to reconnect, since he only went to Western New York for vacations. My mother, who’s from Jamestown, visited him there a few months before his death, and saw how passionate he had become with respect to one of his classes. She was glad to see that he seemed happy (he had been homesick the previous school year). He had a job at my aunt’s print shop, he had a car, he was doing well in school, his future was coming together nicely.

Now most of his friends have graduated college, and some even have children of their own. I think of all the things he’s NOT going to get to do (graduate college, get married, give me grandchildren). But in a way, with his donation, all the people he helped are doing that on behalf of him.

Thoughts from Dad

Travis J. Hilton March 5, 1992 - November 10, 2012

“That dash represents all the time that they spent alive on earth. And now only those who loved them know what that little line is worth.”

My name is Kevin Hilton and I am Travis’ father. Travis’ mother and I separated when Travis was only 1 ½ years old. Although we weren’t together, we both loved Travis very much. My family consists of myself; my wife, Michelle, who has been with me since Travis was 2 ½ years old; his sister, Jillian, who was two years older than Travis; and his brother, James, who was 4 years younger. I also have seven brothers and sisters so Travis was loved by many aunts, uncles and cousins. He was also very close to Michelle’s family who loved him as their own. Michelle’s mother and step-father were always taking all the grandchildren on vacations and adventures and he loved them. He also loved his aunt and cousins on Michelle’s side.

James, Michelle, Eric, Jillian, Kevin and Travis (left to right) in 2012.
James, Michelle, Eric, Jillian, Kevin and Travis (left to right) in 2012.

When Travis was young he played the baritone in his school band and that greatly influenced James to play the baritone when he joined the school band. He also played soccer and basketball. As he grew older, he loved watching the NCAA March Madness games and the FIFA World Cup. He had quite the collection of international soccer jerseys.

Travis would spend his school breaks and summer vacations with us and he always enjoyed camping, riding four-wheelers in the woods behind our house and waterskiing on Chautauqua Lake. When the kids were young we would take a week every summer and go to Six Flags Darien Lake amusement park for a couple days and then we would pack up and go to Letchworth State Park for a couple days. Oh, the good old days. As the kids grew older we enjoyed vacations in Florida and the Outer Banks, North Carolina.

James, Travis and Jillian.
James, Travis and Jillian.

Travis, even as a toddler, was always fearless and a daredevil. As a teen he learned to run up the side of a tree or wall and do a flip. When we arrived in Florida, he immediately ran up the side of a palm tree and flipped! We installed a pool at our house in 2012 and told the installers that the pool could not be too close to our house or the gardening shed in the back yard because we were sure that Travis would jump off the roof and do flips into the pool. He still did flips into the pool, just not from a roof.

He also had the best sense of humor. He was quick with a joke. He would go to school dressed in a yellow banana suit or sombrero for a laugh. He had many friends both here in Jamestown and in Albany where he lived with his mother. He will always be remembered as a good friend.

His favorite band was Bayside. His sister, Nicole, on his mother’s side, is friends with members of the band. He also loved to see the Warped Tour at Darien Lake each summer with his sister Jill. They were quite young when they started to attend that concert tour, so I would take them and hang out at the car in the parking lot until they were done. When James got older, the two of us would ride the rides until Jill and Travis were done. Because, of course, they didn’t want their dad following them around the concert! His love of music also fostered his love of tattoos. I now wish I would have taken pictures of all of them.

After graduating from high school, Travis came to live with us while attending Jamestown Community College. We were so happy to have him living with us. He was studying physical education and wanted to be a gym teacher. He loved children and would have been a great teacher. He played on their intramural basketball team and he was in his second year at JCC. Travis and James were always playing basketball in the driveway with friends. He planned to go on to further his education to become a phys. ed. teacher.

Unfortunately, as Travis grew older, he also liked to drink. He was the life of the party with his friends. Binge drinking was a problem with Travis. He felt he needed to drink as much as he could as fast as he could. On the day that Travis died, he had gotten his hands on a full-sized bottle of whiskey. We found out later that he drank the whole bottle of whiskey, by himself, in under an hour. His BAC was .39% and his heart just couldn’t take it. It was the worst day of our lives when the ER doctor said, “Mr. Hilton, we’re very sorry...” He was just a 20-year-old kid who made a dumb mistake. He didn’t realize how dangerous it was. Both sides of Travis’ family are now working to spread awareness on the dangers of binge drinking among teens and young adults. The kids and I lost our best friend and we love and miss him so much.

A selfie taken by Travis the morning before his death.
A selfie taken by Travis the morning before his death.

March 5th would have been Travis’ 23rd birthday. It was a day of great sadness when you think about all that Travis will miss. He’ll never get married or have children and grandchildren of his own. Jill had a beautiful daughter, Harper, one month after Travis died. He was really looking forward to being an uncle to Harper. Jill is now getting married to Harper’s father, Eric, this summer and Travis won’t be here for his sister. I also have an older son, John, who is 33 years old. I hadn’t seen or talked to John in over 30 years until he called me this last summer wanting to reconnect with me and my family. John is a Texas State Trooper with a beautiful wife and two step-children. They plan to be here this summer for Jill’s wedding. We talk often and we can’t wait to meet them. It is sad that Travis will never meet his older brother. But, I do believe that Travis does watch over us and he has met Harper, he will be at Jill’s wedding and he’s happy that I now have my son John back in my life. He’ll continue to watch over us.

Travis was a great young man who was funny, caring, thoughtful and loving. Travis would help anyone in need and he continued his caring and giving generosity in his final gift as an organ, tissue and eye donor to help others through Unyts. To date, his donations have helped 71 individuals in Western New York live a better life. It is an honor to have Travis recognized as the Unyts April “Hero the Month” and we urge people to register as an organ donor this National Donate Life Month.

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