Raising Coach Gary Moore’s Hope-Meter
Plano East Senior High (PESH) head football coach and East cluster athletic director, Joey McCullough emotionally said that when PESH wide receiver coach and math teacher, 40-year-old Gary Don Moore told him he had been diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) “I quivered a little.” McCullough said he had noticed physical changes in Moore such as being able to bench press less. In the past, he daily benched 315 pounds; recently he was only able to press 115 pounds. He saw Moore shake after climbing stairs. Other coaches had witnessed Moore fall when throwing to the receivers. McCullough said that Moore was always a quiet man, but this year he had to bring a megaphone to practice so that he could be heard.
McCullough said that building relationships with his students was very important to Moore. He liked having breakfast with his players on game day. Moore was diagnosed with ALS mid-December of 2017. He said that it really bothered him that he wasn’t able to build relationships this year. McCullough said that Moore loves kids and cares about the kids beyond their performance. His life is very faith-based and he sees his calling to be a teacher similar to a calling to be a preacher.
Since his diagnosis, Moore has chosen to live life to the fullest and get the most out of the time he has left. He is married and has three young children. He has chosen ‘no tears’ and ‘no why’s’. Moore said, “It has changed our (my wife and I) perspective on life. It's made us live the way we knew we should've been living all along. My wife and I dedicate the beginning of every day to our Lord Jesus Christ, and then everything else pretty much falls into place. We don't worry about tomorrow, we just enjoy today. But we exercise more, physically I can't do what I've always done, but exercise still always helps me feel better and energizes me. We go on a date every Friday while the kids are at school. We're thankful our priorities are back in line where they should be.”
In January, Moore attended a meeting where Ennis football coach Sam Harrell spoke. Harrell, while battling multiple-sclerosis (MS), chose to pursue stem cell treatment and, after the third treatment, saw a marked improvement. He went from being unable to walk to walking, then running and back to coaching football again. This personal testimony gave Moore a dramatic spike in his personal hope-meter.
Moore has chosen to undergo stem cell treatment. Each treatment costs between $40K and $50K. He can get this treatment every six weeks.
“Besides our faith, the thing we are most thankful for and overwhelmed by, has been the support of our family and our extended families (i.e., the Plano East community). My wife and I were doing well, we thought (financially), but without the outpouring of support we've received, through prayer and financial, we wouldn't have been able to be as strong, and wouldn't have been able to get the top notch treatments. We could've afforded between one and two months’ worth of the treatment plan we're on. Because of the support we've received, I'm getting the celebrity treatment.”
PESH student senate members Phillip John and Whitt Welch spearheaded fundraising efforts for Moore. Additional help has come from Booster Club President Jamie Moore and PESH Assistant Principal Kevin Welborn. T-shirts and bracelets have been sold and a golf tournament was held.
On Saturday, April 14, the Gary Don 5K will be held at Kimbrough Stadium. The event is from 8:00 am – noon. The cost is $20 for students and $30 for adults. All proceeds will benefit Coach Moore’s medical expenses. Register at tinyurl.com/garydon5k.
In addition to the 5K, attendees can participate in a mini football camp conducted by Wynel Seldon and Broderick Monday of Innovative Athletic Movement at the stadium for the kids attending the race. Wynel is a graduate and alumnus of Plano East Senior High School where he played football. He went on to play for the University of Wyoming before being drafted into the NFL where he played for the Washington Redskins and Buffalo Bills. There will also be bounce houses and food trucks on site.