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Turning tragedy into advocacy

Oct 18, 2017
by Bobbie Stewart

On Oct. 9, 2004, Grayden Moore, ‘03, was skateboarding down a long, steep road on the Gold Coast in Australia when his board wobbled and gave way beneath him. He bounced on his head three times and was knocked unconscious, leaving him without a heartbeat and blood flowing from his ears and mouth. He was not wearing a helmet.

The damage to his brain was devastating. Doctors told family members that he would likely die, and if he didn’t, he’d be “a vegetable for the rest of his life and would never walk or talk again.”

“I don’t remember anything from that time, or from the few years before the accident,” he said.

The accident itself was a traumatic experience for the Flagler Sport Management major, an Australian junior tennis champ who worked as a tennis coach at an exclusive private school after graduating in 2003. But then, the following medical care became another harrowing ordeal.

The then 23-year-old Moore was placed into a nursing home, alongside senior patients. In Australia, young adults with brain injuries can get placed in nursing homes for treatment due to the lack of medical facilities for appropriate-age care. This can result in improper treatment, as in Moore’s case.

“I know I would have died if I remained in the nursing home,” he said. “They had me on so many drugs.”

Luckily, his parents completed a lengthy process to gain legal guardianship, and fought to have him placed in a brain injury facility. Only then, two years after living in a nursing home, could Moore begin the journey to recovery. He committed to years of physiotherapy and eventually learned how to talk and walk again.

Now, the Flagler alumnus serves as an ambassador for Summer Foundation, an organization in Australia that aims to change human service policies and practices related to young people in nursing homes. He gives talks to the public and media in an effort to educate others of the dilemma young adults face.

In addition to shedding light on stories such as Moore’s, the Summer Foundation conducts research that provides evidence-based data for policy change, and works to increase the range and number of housing and support options for people with disabilities.

“I am hopeful about change,” Moore said. “The more we talk about the issue, the more there’s a better chance of that. By doing this work, I feel like I’m helping others who might possibly face the same thing.”

He added that he’s happily playing tennis again, not with the skill and agility he used to have, but more importantly, with a positive outlook.

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