The Long Run

Robert Moore running along a shaded road.

For many years, Robert Moore hid a tough diagnosis: multiple sclerosis. Next week, though, the two-time CALS alumnus will be front and center in raising awareness of disease.

He plans to run 150 miles across Pennsylvania in support of a cure — and in hopes that his story might help others.

Moore’s run is part of the MS Run the US — a fundraising relay of 18 runners that crosses 3,100 miles from Los Angeles to New York City. Moore will run the equivalent of a marathon a day for six days, from Brookville to Sunbury, from July 29 to Aug. 3.

‘Everybody’s experience with MS is different’

Moore was diagnosed with MS in 2008 while he was a student at NC State. His face began going numb, and tests showed he had lesions in his brain.

He had a vague idea of what he might be in for: The only people he knew who had MS were in wheelchairs, and his doctors couldn’t give a definitive prognosis. MS causes damage to the body’s central nervous system, but symptoms vary from person to person, ranging from pain and fatigue to impaired coordination and vision loss.

“I had it in my mind to just keep moving as much as I could,” he recalls. “Since then, I’ve learned that just because you have MS does not mean that you’re bound to a wheelchair. Everybody’s experience with MS is different.”

I no longer run for fear of losing my mobility, but for the enjoyment and challenge it provides.

Moore was determined not to let the diagnosis interfere with his goals: He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in soil science in 2009 and a bachelor’s in agricultural engineering two years later. Then he joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service as an engineer.

Along the way, he took up running and cycling. Fear, he says, was his motivator. But now, he runs for other reasons.

“I no longer run for fear of losing my mobility, but for the enjoyment and challenge it provides,” he says.

His long-term goals include running a marathon in every state in the continental United States (he’s up to 11 already) and to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

I want to show that a diagnosis of MS is not an end-all, but an opportunity to open new doors.

But, as he writes on one marathon website, in the end, it’s about staying healthy and giving others hope.

“I’m running … to inspire those that have been recently diagnosed or are struggling,” he writes. “I want to show that a diagnosis of MS is not an end-all, but an opportunity to open new doors.”

To follow Moore’s progress in the MS Run the US or to contribute, check out his Facebook page. You can also support the cause on this fundraising page.

This post was originally published in College of Agriculture and Life Sciences News.