NAUGATUCK — In the eyes of Naugatuck’s Avery Moore, it was always a matter of when, not if, he would walk again.
Two months after sustaining traumatic injuries during a car accident, the 15-year-old’s determination and grit was on display Oct. 26 for everyone to see.
Moore showed everyone how far he’s come by walking out to the middle of Veteran’s Field to perform the pregame coin toss before Naugatuck High’s football game with Crosby.
Moore walked without the assistance of a walker or wheelchair, although he wears leg braces to secure his balance. Tommy Moore, Avery’s dad, said his son still has numbness in his feet and hands.
Back on Aug. 1, Moore sustained a rupture of the fifth cervical vertebrae in his neck during a car accident in Long Island. He had emergency surgery to remove bone fragments and also needed spinal cord fusion surgery. The surgeries were performed at Stony Brook University Medical Center.
Weeks later, Moore was transported to Gaylord Hospital in Wallingford for rehabilitation. After extensive rehab, he was released on Sept. 30.
Currently, Avery attends out-patient physical therapy and occupational therapy three days a week at Gaylord and is being home-schooled twice a week.
“Our goal is for Avery to go back to school after the Christmas break,” Tommy Moore said. “It will depend on how his therapy goes over the next couple of months and how much stamina he has.”
Two weeks after being released from Gaylord, Avery, a triplet, celebrated his 15th birthday on Oct. 14 with his brothers Brody and Casey.
According to his dad, Avery’s positive attitude has made a huge difference in the healing and recovery process.
“Even after the accident when he couldn’t move, Avery was smiling,” Tommy Moore said. “He never thought he wouldn’t walk again. He always knew he would, but he thought it would take time. He never gave up.”
Tommy Moore said Avery’s progress has been posted regularly on the Moore Facebook page.
“When things look grim or look impossible, there is always hope,” Tommy Moore said. “It always could be worst. If you put in the work, you get out of life what you put into it.”
Avery’s mom, Becky, said the support from people in the borough with various fundraisers and donations and well-wishes has been more than she could ever have imagined.
“It’s been overwhelming,” Becky Moore said. “I’m so grateful. I don’t even know how to express our thanks. I’ve been trying to keep up with thank you cards. There have been hundreds of them. Avery sees the prayers and support, and that helps him.”
That included heartfelt support from his fellow students. In late September, members of the high school’s DECA chapter organized “All Night for Avery,” a walk-a-thon to raise money to help Avery.
The Greyhounds football team also stepped forward to help. Even though Avery is an aspiring artist rather than a member of the football team, the Greyhounds raised nearly $2,500 during a car wash for the Moore family in mid-September. The team also visited Avery at Gaylord.
“Naugatuck’s football coach Dave Sollazzo was so enthusiastic and said absolutely, whatever his team can do, they will just make happen,” said Michele Linton of the Naugatuck Quarterback Club. “The last thing he said was, ‘Everybody’s all in.’ The support from him and the boys has been fantastic.”
Linton’s son, Nicholas, is a sophomore on the football team.
“This hits home when it happens to one of their own,” Michele Linton said. “They’re the same age. It humbles them, and they learn to appreciate how good life is and how good they have it. They realize the depth of what has occurred to one of their peers.”
Sollazzo said the Greyhounds were glad to come to the aid of one their classmates.
“It showed what type of team we are,” Sollazzo said. “Close to 50 kids were there to volunteer at the car wash. We’re all about team and family.”