TE Dave Moore has become a go-to guy for nurses at All Children's Hospital, making frequent visits to encourage young patients
It's a familiar and pleasant memory for many NFL players, dating back to their college days. Back then, their coaches would schedule regular team visits to the local children's hospital, and the players, even as amateurs, would realize how much their presence could lift the spirits of these troubled youngsters.
Dave Moore certainly remembers the hospital visits he made while playing football at the University of Pittsburgh. At the time, the Panthers played at Pitt Stadium, which happened to be located right across the street from the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. Those heartwarming trips across the street drove him to find a similar experience after establishing himself in the NFL in Tampa, and eventually to a longer-lasting presence in pediatric care.
"That was kind of something I started at a young age," Moore said. "When I got down here I just picked it up from there, but I was always interested in learning about how a hospital works."
A veteran of 14 years in the NFL, most of which have been played right here in Tampa, Moore is finally pursuing his interest in hospital administration as a member of the Board of Trustees at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg.
Moore's interest in All Children's began during a series of team-sponsored activities at the hospital.
"Years ago I started coming down for events like this," Moore said at this year's Valentine's Day party at All Children's, attended by several Bucs players and cheerleaders. "Periodically, we would get a group of guys and just come down and visit and hang out with the kids."
The frequency of these trips wasn't widely known. Moore and his teammates would generally shy away from media attention during their visits not because of some overwrought selflessness but simply due to the fact that the time it took to conduct interviews would detract from time spent with the kids.
Eventually, the nurses at All Children's began to inform Moore any time a young patient was really down and needed some extra motivation to fight his or her affliction. The tight end would make special trips to the hospital just to see the one or two patients who needed him the most.
Several years ago, one boy in particular was given a discouraging prognosis. Moore visited him periodically and, wonderfully, the patient's disease went into remission. He left the hospital, and Moore occasionally went to see him play baseball. Through prom pictures and now letters from college, Moore has stayed in touch with the young man to this day. Of course, not all of the stories have such happy endings, and Moore has befriended several children who never made it out of the hospital.
Over time, Moore developed into a stalwart figure both on the field for the Buccaneers and in the halls of All Children's Hospital, where he continued to pop in regularly to check on his new friends. Eventually, a spot came open on the hospital's Board of Trustees, and Moore was nominated and voted in before he was even notified of the action.
As a member of the Board, Moore attends monthly meetings where he participates in discussions regarding hospital operations, future planning and issues of fundraising. His presence on the Board often reflects the point of view of the young patients, something he feels can be overlooked by those concerned with the business of the hospital.
"I think it kind of gives a different perspective from being in here and seeing the kids," Moore said. "I think what gets lost in translation sometimes is the specific kids you go from room to room to see. They aren't always the first thing they think about [in the Board meetings]."
He now spends valuable time in the hospital's conference room, but that hasn't taken away from the time he shares with kids in their rooms. There is, for instance, a young boy currently at All Children's who receives a visit from Moore about once every two weeks. The boy's legal guardian lives in Port Charlotte with his younger siblings, and his family doesn't have the means to make the trip to St. Petersburg often to visit. Moore brings the boy video games and the two create time during which neither has to think about the battle the young boy is facing.
"They're kids just wanting to be kids," Moore said. "If you can take an hour of their life and make them forget there are tubes coming out of them or why they're here, that makes it worth it for everybody."
Moore learned that lesson a long time ago. Now he's in the perfect position to pass it along.