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Legacy in the News: Former Southern Oregon athlete fighting rare disease at the Rehabilitation Institute of Oregon

KGW NewsChannel 8

May 21, 2013
Erion Moore is working hard with his physical therapist, Valerie, at the Rehabilitation Institute of Oregon. He has some long-term goals he would like to achieve, and some he would like to reach in the short-term as well.

"I told him I don't want to be in a walker coming down the aisle," he said before another intense rehab session. "If I can use a cane, then I'll consider it."

Moore's best friend is getting married this summer, and Erion prefers to make it down the aisle on his own. It's a reasonable goal for a kid who was once a high-wire act while playing basketball for Southern Oregon University, most recently in 2008.

It was after that season when Moore was diagnosed with Schleroderma; a rare autoimmune disease which attacks the body from the inside out causing among other things a hardening and thickening of the joints and skin.

Moore's first few years with the disease were manageable. He got around with a cane, and his skin hadn't yet hardened to the point where he couldn't move. But by the summer of 2013, he couldn't even uncoil his body.

"There was no cure, and everything was in the trial period, even the stem cell transplant. But from everything I read that was the best option," he said.

So Moore got himself to Chicago for this experimental treatment, and within days of undergoing the stem cell transplant procedure, he noticed a difference.

"My skin started to loosen up almost right away," he said.

Moore is doing well with physical therapy at RIO. He's in an inpatient rehab stint at the Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center-based center in Northwest Portland, and the use of his hands and legs has returned, although, not at full capacity.

But aside from regaining the use of his limbs, he has a renewed enthusiasm for life.

"Ever since I thought about that stem cell research, I thought, now I can start playing ball. Now I can start work again," he said.

He is still not quite ready for all of that. But his dream of going back to work as a counselor to youth and adult offenders appears to be a more reasonable goal with each passing day. His goal of making it down the aisle for a wedding seems very much within his grasp.

"I have another teammate, a second best friend, and he's getting married in September. I might be able to walk for his," he said.

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