There was an undeniable sense of comradery, with the buzzing of the crowd and building anticipation from fans of all ages as they made their presence known. You could feel the sense of pride in the air as a line of supporters made their way out of the cool night air. Another Celina football game, you may ask? No, but the love in the air that night was only a sample of the support and sense of family and togetherness, that has created generations of loyal and faithful Bobcat fans.
On February 10th, students, coaches, brothers, and friends from the past 30 years gathered from near and far to show their spirit and support for one of their very own. Gary Don Moore, son of the legendary High School football coach, G.A. Moore, knows a little bit about that spirit, being raised a coach’s kid in Celina, Texas. What brought this reunion of thousands of people together, in what can only be described as a tight knit community, was a fundraiser and auction to benefit one of our own. Less than two months ago, on December 18th, Moore was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
Gary Don took the stage with his wife Valerie, surrounded by thousands of auction items, which included sports memorabilia from Celina High School on up to the Dallas Cowboys. The school cafeteria was a symbolic backdrop for the sea of relatives and “self proclaimed” family members…it is a little-known fact that if you grew up in Celina, you’re family by default. It was a hugely successful event, but it was so much more than that; a reunion of sorts, of the hometown hero kind. As he expressed his immense gratitude for the support he and his family have received since they learned of his diagnosis, you couldn’t help but be consumed with the fact that Gary Don Moore is on a mission. That mission was difficult to process in the beginning, as Gary Don knew little about ALS.
It has been said that God gives his strongest stewards His biggest assignments. After much prayer and dependence on God to carry them through, it is with much integrity that they graciously took on their assignment and are a walking, talking reflection of what it means to stay strong in your faith during times of difficulty. His wisdom, which poured from an emotional, yet flawlessly brave part of his spirit, included that of “loving your neighbor as yourself” and the importance of using our different talents to serve God and others. He believes wholeheartedly that God has a plan for each of us and that there are people strategically placed in our lives, that only we can influence with our wisdom and gifts.
As a coach at Plano East High School, and as witnessed by the emotion on the faces of the athletes he has coached, Gary Don has made an impact and successfully utilized his talents to the betterment of others. It was evident that he came by his wisdom and talents honestly, when I asked, “Who is your hero?” Without hesitation and with great pride, he looked me right in the eye and humbly spoke the words, “My Dad.”
G.A. spoke of “the heart of the golden triangle”, referring to Celina, Aubrey and Pilot Point. He stated, “This many people showing up for our family is proof that this has got to be the best place in the world to grow up and raise kids. We’re blessed to live where we live and be associated with the people we’ve been associated with and have friends that show up the way that you all have tonight.” Those friends included lifelong friend of G.A., Dan Smith, who spoke of their college days and how they had been a part of each other’s lives for over 50 years. Ray Love and Nic Hoover were consistent with other attendees’ description of Gary Don as an exceptional leader both on and off of the field. It doesn’t matter who you ask, it’s easy to see that this family is highly respected in their community and has made an impressive impact on the lives of so many.
Gary Don stated that some of the friends in attendance he hasn’t seen in 20 years but, “They’re all my brothers as far as I’m concerned.” Those brothers all felt the same way about him, too. When I asked Ryan Brooks how he knew the family, he told me the story of when he and Gary Don were in elementary school and the Moore’s moved in down the street. A young Gary Don made his way down the road to introduce himself and asked in typical childhood fashion, if he could play. “That’s where it all started, and we’ve been playing together ever since.”
Gary Don’s plans are to travel to California for what his family has concluded will be the best option for his treatment. He will undergo 2 weeks of FDA-approved stem cell treatment at UT Southwestern Medical Center to slow things down. He says that he fully intends to beat this and hopefully with the help of all natural supplements, he’ll feel better in a couple of weeks. He closed with these final thoughts, “Don’t feel sorry for me, just come hang out with me, that is all I ask.”
If you grew up in a small town, you know how the people, experiences and memories become like unbreakable threads knitted together, strengthening and adding color to the tapestry of our lives. In a way, the game of football is like the game of life. In Gary Don’s case, his friends are his brothers and teammates in life. The fans are his family and the people of his hometown. The field is his mission and his faith is the ball that he will carry into the end zone. What happens when he gets there is yet to be seen, but you can rest assured that whatever happens there will be part of a divine plan, because in the game of life, God is the head coach and Gary Don Moore, is most definitely an MVP.
Jodie Brownd | Cedarbrook Media