Editor’s Note: Paraplegic Kebra Moore from Havelock, North Carolina, is an actress, model, singer, songwriter, substitute teacher, wife, mother and motivational speaker. Several of Kebra Moore’s songs and videos have been nominated for awards. Her song, “He’ll Make a Way” was featured on President Barack Obama’s documentary soundtrack, “Becoming Barack: Evolution of a Leader.”
“I grew up with music all of my life,” Kebra Moore emphasizes. “I was 24 years old in 1999, teaching music at an elementary school, working on my master’s degree in music education, singing, taking care of my 14-month old son and being very active in my sorority – Delta Sigma Theta.”
A Christmas Eve Like No Other
“On Christmas Eve, 1999, my fiancé, Marquis Moore, my son, Marquis Jr., and I were traveling from New Orleans, Louisiana, to Camden, Arkansas, for the holidays and to make final arrangements for our wedding in 2 weeks,” Moore remembers. “A car in front of us didn’t give a signal, but turned right in front of our car. My fiancé had one of two choices – hit the car that turned in front of us or go off the road. He felt the safest course of action was to leave the road. We went up in the air, came down and hit a tree. The tree actually stopped the car from rolling over. I was conscious during the entire accident. Following behind us was a nurse going to work.
“Marquis jumped out of the car and checked on the baby first. He told me, ‘The baby is okay.’ I said, ‘I can’t move.’ I didn’t know what had happened. I just knew I had terrible pain in my back and couldn’t move. When the nurse reached our car, she started praying with me, held my hand and stayed with me until the ambulance and the first responders arrived. The nurse kept telling me not to move. When the paramedics arrived, they put a neck brace on me and carefully got me out of the car and into the ambulance, assuming my back was broken.
“Immediately, I was taken to a hospital in Vicksburg, Mississippi, where doctors took x-rays and then sent me to St. Dominic Hospital in Jackson, Miss. The doctors informed Marquis that my 12th vertebra was crushed, and I had sustained an incomplete T12 fracture. I also was told that there was a good chance I never would walk again. My spine was swollen so badly that I stayed in the hospital for a week taking pain medicine to let the swelling go down before the doctors could operate.”
Moore had thoracic fusion surgery from T11 to L1 in her back, stayed in St. Dominic’s for a month and was put in a back brace, so her spine could heal. From there she was transferred to Touro Rehabilitation Center in north Louisiana.
“There for 3 months I had physical therapy and occupational therapy and was taught how to live in a wheelchair,” Moore explains. “From the time I arrived at the hospital, I was praying Luke 1:37, one of my favorite verses, ‘With God, nothing is impossible.’
I also was quoting to myself the poem, ‘Invictus’ by Sir William Earnest Henley that I had learned in my sorority: ‘I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.’
I had faith in God that my life would be better. God spoke to me and told me I would be okay. But I still had a lot of issues to deal with and also had to raise a child and plan to marry my fiancé. I often thought about how life tried to grab me by the reins and dictate the terms of my life based on a single traumatic event. But I was a God fearing woman and didn’t expect life to be a bed of roses.”
Moore’s first miracle came 2 days after her surgery. Marquis went to the courthouse next door to the hospital and asked the judge to come with him. The judge married them while Moore was still in her hospital bed. “We’ve been married for the past 15 years,” Moore says.
“Although I was the one living in the wheelchair, Marquis and I both had to adapt to my new life. My accident weighed almost as heavily on Marquis as it did on me, but he was very supportive all the way through my hospital stay and rehab. One year after my accident we had another wedding in California – a large one. I was able to use leg braces and walk down the aisle on the arm of my uncle who was like a father to me. I was still going to physical therapy every day. However, I relied heavily on my faith and God helping me, and I had a really good support system. Now if I said I didn’t have any tough days, I’d be lying, because I did.
I went through the, ‘Why me?’ ‘I can’t do this.’ ‘Why did this have to happen to me?’ times – but came out on top.
“During the 15 years we’ve been married, Marquis has been a rock. None of our friends were surprised when he married me right after my operation. He took his vows seriously (through sickness and health), and he’s never wavered. Marquis will tell anyone, ‘I didn’t marry Kebra for her legs!’
Marquis has been on active duty in the United States Marine Corps throughout our marriage and is a Master Gunnery Sergeant. We have two children, Marquis, Jr., who is 16, and Maurice, who is 14. Since Marquis is in the Marines, when he’s been stationed in different areas of the country, we’ve always moved to his various duty stations. When Marquis was stationed in Marino Valley, California, I returned to school and got my teaching credentials for California. I taught third grade there for 2 years. Next, I went to work for the Social Security Administration for 4-1/2 years and helped people get their SSI checks. Then we were stationed in Meridian, Mississippi, for 3 years.”
Kebra Moore’s Focus Today
“The summer of 2015, we moved to Havelock, North Carolina,” Moore reports. “Currently I’m a licensed substitute teacher in North Carolina, however, I’m about to go on tour with my music.
I didn’t want to give up my singing career just because I was paralyzed.
Many people in wheelchairs have fantastic lives and wonderful opportunities. I didn’t want to be one of those ladies who just sat at home in a wheelchair and let life pass me by. At that time and continuing until today, I believe God’s purpose for me has been that I live in a wheelchair and be the individual who motivates people and inspires them to be all they can be. I also try to motivate and inspire people who aren’t in wheelchairs by saying to them, ‘Hey, if I can do what I do, how much more can you do?’
“I want to change the way people who aren’t in wheelchairs view people who are in wheelchairs. I try to explain that if you’re in a wheelchair your life doesn’t have to stop. Many people in wheelchairs are doing awesome things, changing the worlds they live in and changing the world around them. Females in wheelchairs are mothers, wives and career women.
I often tell people who aren’t in wheelchairs, ‘The only difference in us is that you’re walking, and I’m rolling faster than you can walk.’
“Once I became paralyzed, many doors have opened up for me that never may have been opened without my injury. I’ve recorded a CD, and I’m an inspirational contemporary gospel singer with the theme ‘Ability Not Disability.’
My songs are uplifting, and through my singing, I tell people they’re beautiful. I have a management company that sets up singing engagements for me to tour all over the United States. I sing at worship services, women’s conferences and schools and perform at expos for people with disabilities.
“I decided I wanted to be a model in a wheelchair to show women that they still were beautiful in their wheelchairs. I wanted them to see that they could have style and fashion and also wear some of the latest clothing on the market today. I was at an Abilities Expo when a lady asked me to model for her company. This lady uses models with some form of disability.
From that first modeling job, my modeling opportunities have begun to open up.
My management company books me as a model. I model for medical magazines, medical brochures, wheelchair companies and any other type of modeling opportunity the company finds for me.
“Right now my management company and I are negotiating with a clothing company that I may model for in the future. If I get this contract, I’ll be the first woman with a disability to model for this company. Currently I’m modeling mainly high-fashion, trendy clothes.
Just because women are in wheelchairs doesn’t mean they can’t keep up with the fashion trends and wear some of the latest designs from New York and Paris. And, last year I traveled to 16 different cities singing, modeling and giving inspirational talks. In 2015, so far, I plan to be in Atlanta, Georgia, South Carolina, Baltimore, Maryland, and Tennessee.”
What’s in Store for Kebra Moore?
“I’m often asked, ‘Where do you see yourself 5 or 10 years from now?’” Moore says. “I’m trying to break down doors and open up new opportunities for ladies in wheelchairs. In the next 5 – 10 years, I see myself traveling the world as a gospel singer. I’m also attempting to be a commercial model in a wheelchair to open up modeling opportunities for other ladies in wheelchairs.
I plan to take the world by storm. Thousands of ladies in wheelchairs are looking for opportunities that may not exist for them right now. I hope to find those opportunities and open those doors, so that ladies in wheelchairs can become whatever they want to be.
“I’m a former Ms. Wheelchair Mississippi (2013), and I’m now the Mississippi coordinator for that event. Through that competition, I’ve met many ladies in wheelchairs who are doing so much for the State of Mississippi, their communities and for the community that’s disabled too. I’m challenging young women to live God-first lives.
“I launched my Beautiful Campaign in 2014 to focus attention on educating people who have suffered injuries like mine to realize those injuries aren’t a state of their bodies but rather a state of their minds. As I travel throughout the U.S. meeting people in hospitals and rehabilitation centers and at expos, I want them to see that success moves far beyond a pair of arms or legs.
There’s so much more to transcending expectations than having the ability to stand upright.
As long as there is breath in my body, I will be campaigning forever and telling the world that each person is unique to himself or herself and has the uniqueness of God in him. If your mind can conceive it, your body, regardless of its condition, can achieve anything you want.”
Several of Kebra Moore’s songs and videos have been nominated for awards. Her song, “He’ll Make a Way” was featured on President Barack Obama’s documentary soundtrack, “Becoming Barack: Evolution of a Leader.”
Visit Kebra Moore’s website at www.kebramoore.net to learn more.
Watch Kebra on YouTube:
NEVER LET HIM GO: https://youtu.be/iEqjr5kfpxg
Additional Resources From Wheel:Life on Relationships
Within Reconnecting: Relationship Advice from Wheelchair Users, readers will hear from people who use wheelchairs as they share their perspective on friends, family and relationships including dating, marriage and parenting.
Author Lisa Wells shares real-life examples and success stories throughout the book based on her lengthy career that includes ongoing interactions with disability advocates, non-profit supporters and peer support group members.
Reconnecting: Relationship Advice from Wheelchair Users features interviews with:
- Graduate student & quadriplegic Ather Sharif about connecting on a college campus
- Amputee Thomas Morris on connecting through his unique appearance and personality
- NSCIA [Buffalo, NY chapter] President Natalie Barnhard who connects Wheels with Wings
- Paraplegic Todd Robinson who explains his family connection through the joy of adoption
- Quadriplegic Ashleigh Justice who connects on the quad rugby field and as a young mother
About the Author:
For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at www.johninthewild.com.