The Times West Virginian

January 30, 2013

Despite facing obstacles, Nina Moore led very remarkable life


Times West Virginian

— Nina Moore passed away the other day. Her obituary appeared in the newspaper along with those of other area residents — listing the names of her relatives and organizations and church affiliation. The usual things.

But the obituary didn’t tell the reader any of the problems this remarkable woman had to deal with for the last 72 years of her life.

That’s how long Nina Moore had been handicapped, unable to walk or run or do the other things that normal people do.

Early on, they tell me, doctors thought Nina might be getting Lou Gehrig’s disease. Later on, some thought it might be polio. When the disease first hit, her mother took her to doctors in Pittsburgh. She had been stumbling around, even climbing up stairs. But old-timers say Nina never walked again once she returned home from Pittsburgh.

She was just 8 years old.

In the months and years ahead, Nina was taken to Johns Hopkins and the Cleveland Clinic and other leading medical facilities. At some point along the way, her illness was diagnosed as muscular dystrophy. And later polio. But it really didn’t matter. Nina Moore would never walk again. She would live the rest of her life out of a wheelchair. All 72 years of it.

Many people in that situation would decide to stay home and shut down their outside life. They were handicapped and it was up to the world to take care of them.

But not Nina. She taught Sunday school, was a member of the board of directors for the Fairmont-Marion County Transit Authority for 16 years and was an active member of the Fairmont A.D.A (Americans With Disabilities) Compliance Team. Once she got out of the hospital and went straight to a Transit Authority meeting.

She proved invaluable in teaching other people confined to wheelchairs how to use this new mode of getting around. But when she was out alone in her wheelchair, some of her friends indicated that she enjoyed going fast. “If they gave tickets for speeding in a wheelchair,” someone remarked with a smile on his face, “Nina would probably have been in jail.”

Each Friday, she would go shopping at the Morgantown Mall — transported there by a Fairmont-Marion County Transit Authority bus. The bus would pick her up at 12:45 p.m., and the return trip home was around 4. Usually she would bring the bus driver a pretzel or some other similar “gift.”

One of the things for which she was most proud was the bill (Senate Bill 591 in 1999) that A. James Manchin had passed in the House of Delegates and that later became law that enabled disabled people to vote. Known as the Nina Moore law, the bill stated that any handicapped people who couldn’t visit their polling places could vote in their car or at their home. But an election commissioner must be present along with one Democrat or one Republican.

She also was proud of a plaque that read “The Muscular Dystrophy Association is proud to recognize Nina Moore for outstanding achievement and demonstrated success, overcoming the challenges of the neuro-muscular disease.”

In the end, her lungs just wore out even though she was very optimistic of making another recovery, as she had so many times before. But one of her caregivers pointed out that Nina Moore was probably already up in heaven, smiling down upon us and still racing her cherished wheelchair as she always loved to do.