2011: MooreMart co-founder Paul Moore
BEDFORD - Every day, Paul Moore is reminded of the sacrifice he made three decades ago while serving in the Army, and every day, he uses that near-death experience to assist other New Hampshire soldiers.
It is for that assistance and spirit of volunteerism that Moore, 54, of Bedford, has been named the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News New Hampshire Citizen of the Year for 2011.
Thirty years after a parachuting accident in Korea caused a serious spinal injury to Moore, a former Army Ranger, he has accomplished the impossible.
'I was in a full body cast for nine months and told that I would never walk again,' said Moore, whose courage and dedication helped prove his doctors wrong. After 18 months of rehabilitation and grueling therapy, Moore began to see progress.
Now, decades later, with a loving wife of 28 years and three grown children, Moore says there is more to life than regrets and painful memories. In fact, Moore says proudly that his accident and the injuries he suffered have made him the man he is today.
It also inspired him to create an organization that New Hampshire military members not only appreciate but also have come to depend on. MooreMart was founded by Moore and his sister, Carole Biggio, in 2004 when their brother, Brian Moore, was stationed in Iraq.
In an effort to support Brian's unit, the Moores began sending out 10 care packages a month.
It eventually snowballed into 40 boxes a month and eventually 100, according to Paul Moore. At that point, he said the American Legion became involved with the project, and routine packing events were planned.
Currently, about 1,800 MooreMart packages are sent to New Hampshire troops every 10 weeks. To date, 44,000 care packages and more than 4 tons of relief supplies have been shipped to the Middle East to help schools, clinics and orphanages.
'I found that if you just ask people, they are happy to help out and step up to donate. After all, they are all of our brothers, as my sister once said. I am fourth-generation military, and this is my way of giving back - paying it forward,' said Moore, a Circuit Court judge serving in Milford, Derry, Hooksett, Concord, Hampton and Salem.
MooreMart has been a second, full-time job for Moore, who said he owes a lot of gratitude to generous businesses such as BAE Systems, Hewlett Packard and Bank of America, which have all helped financially to ship the packages at a cost of nearly $20,000 every 10 weeks.
But Moore's volunteer efforts reach far beyond MooreMart, as the organizations and people he has touched are plenty.
When he was an attorney, Moore did pro bono work for several churches in Greater Nashua. He was also instrumental in establishing The Launching Pad, a federally-funded nonprofit day care in Nashua for parents who could not afford child care.
For several years, Moore has been the vice chairman of the New Hampshire Bar Association's hearings committee, part of the Professional Conduct Committee.
And he is active in the New England Handicap Sports Association, which helps disabled residents participate in recreational sports. In conjunction with the Wounded Warriors initiative, NEHSA also provides skiing lessons for Vietnam veterans who are amputees.
His accomplishments are many, and throughout the years, he has many times been able to include his children, Steven, 27, Caitlin, 25, and Sarah, 22, in his volunteer roles while also coaching many sports teams.
'By integrating my family events with volunteering and exposing my children to others with disabilities, it has given them a greater appreciation for what they have,' said Moore.
Moore's parents instilled in him the importance of giving back to the community, and Moore said he has embraced that life lesson.
Since 2004, the Union Leader and Sunday News have been awarding the Citizen of the Year honor, which is presented to the individual or group who, in the newspapers' view, has had the biggest influence or effect in New Hampshire.
'It is easy to forget that while we go about our daily lives men and women from New Hampshire are serving our state and nation across the globe,'' Publisher Joseph W. McQuaid said. 'What Paul Moore and MooreMart have done helps not only those men and women but also provides Granite Staters with a way to help, as well. We think Judge Moore exemplifies the spirit of volunteerism and thus stands for many of our citizens as this year's Citizen of the Year .''
Last year's recipients were David and Jaimie Cates of Mont Vernon. Jaimie survived a brutal attack that killed her mother and father and daughter remained strong in seeing that the men responsible were convicted. Other Citizen of the Year recipients include Gov. John Lynch, former Attorney General Kelly Ayotte, New Hampshire police and New Hampshire men and women serving in the armed forces.
'Paul works so hard and he does so many things that go unnoticed,' said his sister, Biggio. 'He is a genuinely kind person, and that comes through in everything he does. Even with his physical limitations, he has always been one to give back, especially to the military. It is truly inspiring.'
Moore has received many awards in his lifetime. Recently, he received the William A. Grimes award for judicial professionalism. In 2007, he was presented with a Spirit of New Hampshire award for his volunteerism, and in 2008, President Bush honored MooreMart with a letter of appreciation. In 2011, Moore received a commendation from Gov. Lynch for his commitment to veterans and a tribute from the Points of Light Foundation.
Although Moore still has paralysis in a portion of both his legs and toes, requiring that he use a crutch, he says that is all part of the baggage.
'Being disabled has its ups and downs, but it has made me the person I am today. Your focus changes, and you have to play the cards you are dealt,' said Moore. 'Even on my worst day, it is not a bad day, and every once in awhile something unexpectedly great happens.'
That type of attitude has helped Moore succeed, and it has become infectious to the many people he encounters, according to Biggio.