Heart of a Champion: Middlebury Woman With Cerebral Palsy on Mission to Inspire

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Meg Moore has been defying the odds since the day she was born.

“My mom had a normal, healthy full-term pregnancy, and then my umbilical cord prolapsed during the delivery,” the 25-year-old from Middlebury explained. “I lost five minutes of oxygen, and I wasn't expected to live. They say I made a miraculous recovery.”

The loss of oxygen caused her cerebral palsy, which is why she relies on a wheelchair, walker and an assistive communication device. But it couldn’t touch her fighting spirit.

By all measures, Moore is an overachiever. She’s a para-athlete, running in 5Ks and relay triathlons using a specialized walker. She’s also a magna cum laude undergraduate and straight-A masters student at Fairfield University, a Gold Award-winning lifetime Girl Scout, and an internationally booked motivational speaker with an inspirational message of overcoming adversity.

Photo courtesy of Meg Moore.

“You can still find hope and stay upbeat, even when unfavorable circumstances suddenly impose themselves on you,” she said.

For Moore, one of those circumstances was losing her father to a rare form of cancer just weeks before her second birthday.

Courtesy of Meg Moore
Meg Moore and her father, Terrence Terry Moore.

Another challenge came last summer when a bout of severe pneumonia landed her in the intensive care unit.

Today she’s still regaining strength and mobility with a team of physical and occupational therapists at Gaylord Specialty Healthcare in Wallingford.

“She defies the odds of cerebral palsy,” said physical therapist Katelyn Donahue. “She completely took her diagnosis and showed it who was boss.”

Moore’s therapeutic goals include getting back into racing shape. But she’s also practicing her signature for the day her book deal comes. She’s in the process of writing her motivational life memoir, written one blink at a time. A specialized communication device tracks her eye movements, enabling her to type and speak.

“I actually started writing my book as a kid in fourth grade, as crazy as that sounds,” Moore said. “I want to make a positive difference in the world and help people on as wide a scale as possible.”

As impressive as Moore’s academic achievements and aspirations are, they are dreams others once doubted.

“When I started the process of looking at colleges and making plans for after high school, an unbelievable amount of people told me not to try to go the route of higher education because people with disabilities typically don't succeed in those situations,” Moore recalled.

Meg Moore graduating from high school.

“So, I strive to educate people not to discourage others from following their dreams because if those individuals listened and gave up, they lose out on the chance to achieve success and the world also loses out on the contributions that they may have made had they pursued their ambitions.”

That’s one of the key messages of The Yes You Can Movement, which began as a service project Moore founded on campus at Fairfield University in 2014 as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award.

Photo courtesy of Meg Moore.

She envisions it evolving into a national movement with a mission to “help cancer patients, disabled individuals, and people in general persevere to reach aspirations.”

In other words, helping others overcome obstacles with the heart of a champion – just like Meg Moore.

“I think whether we realize it or not, we have a choice to have the attitude of a champion to stay positive and determined to reach our goals as we face the obstacles and every situation we find ourselves in,” said Moore. “A friend of my family told me a story about my father holding me as a baby. And this friend had made a comment about how hard my life with a disability was going to be. My dad looked at her and said, ‘Whatever the obstacle we will overcome it.’ That's one of the mottos that I try to live by now. And sometimes doing that is nowhere near easy, but I try to stick to it, and hopefully that classifies me as a champion.”

Check out the Yes You Can Movement on Facebook.

More About Cerebral Palsy:

March is National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month, and Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day is Thursday, March 25.

Cerebral palsy affects muscle tone, movement and motor skills. It hinders the body’s ability to move in a coordinated and purposeful way. It also can affect other body functions that involve motor skills and muscles, like breathing, bladder and bowel control, eating and talking.

CP often is caused by brain damage that happens before or during a baby’s birth, or during the first three to five years of a child’s life. Brain damage also can lead to other issues, like sight, hearing and learning problems, according to Connecticut Children’s.

Paralympic Games

The 2022 Paralympic Winter Games will take place from Friday, March 4 to Sunday, March 13 and will be shown on NBC, Peacock, USA Network, Olympic Channel, NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app.

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