‘Just go do it’: health tribulations no barrier for David Moore III

Senior David Moore III presents his poster on Multiple Sclerosis for Health Studies 350, Human Diseases. 

Emily Barske

On March 22, David Moore III, senior in kinesiology and health, sat in the northwest corner of the Campanile Room — where the community members and members of the media sit for the Student Government meetings — an unusual spot for him.

In the past three years, he’d sat in a seat as a senator or with the executive cabinet under two different administrations. That night, he showed up because he was told there were a few interesting items on the agenda that he might want to be in attendance for.

And while he was there as a spectator, it was apparent that he was much more than that. That night the Senate made its very first proclamation — and unbeknownst to David prior to the meeting — it was made to recognize him for his efforts at Iowa State and within Student Government.

The proclamation listed his achievements as senator for the College of Human Sciences, a member of Rules Committee and a member of the Memorial Union Board of Directors. It honored him for his role as the cabinet member who planned the 2016 Big 12 on the Hill — which former student body president Cole Staudt praised for its success especially when compared to the 2017 event that wasn’t planned by Iowa State. 

David sat in his seat in the northwest corner — at first confused — and then grinning ear to ear upon realizing what was happening.  

“He has continually and passionately served the students of Iowa State University, going above and beyond his prescribed duties to make our campus a better place,” the proclamation read. “The Iowa State University Student Government Senate thanks David Moore III for his outstanding dedication and excellent service to Student Government, Iowa State University, and the students at our great university.”

During the closing announcements of the meeting, he thanked the Senate for the honor. But in “David-Moore-style” also offered a critical note about funding the president’s dinner, which was nearly $2,000 more than the previous year.

Offering praise, advice or criticism at the Student Government podium was nothing unusual for David. But two months earlier, at that same podium, he delivered a very different speech — a much more emotional speech as health issues forced him to step down.

Mystery symptoms

During dead week of the fall semester, David thought he had something in his eye and it was affecting his vision. He went to the sink to rinse it out before bed, but when he woke up it was worse.

He went to the Thielen Student Health Center. They told him it was an ocular migraine.

Then on top of the vision problems, he started having numbness in his hands. He got a CAT scan — the biggest worry was a tumor — it came back negative. Still, the doctors didn’t see anything.

As he continued studying for his finals, the symptoms got worse. He went to another doctor in Ames, and they still thought it was an ocular migraine, so they gave him medicine.

He couldn’t talk — due to how the medicine affected him — and he’d lost feeling in the right side of his body. His fiancé had to help take care of him. He was bed-ridden and studied to the best of his ability in his current state. And he still completed his finals. 

A native of Iowa Falls, David spent the majority of winter break and the first part of the spring semester seeing more doctors. They finally found an answer for him.

Taking a step back

Amidst the mystery of his health, the doctors said he needed to take a step back from all that he was involved in.

Between studying for the MCAT on his pursuit to medical school, getting ready for his wedding right after graduation, being on the executive cabinet for Student Government and the MU Board of Directors along with his studies, something had to give. It was too much at a time when his body needed to relax and be under less stress.

The hardest part was not his health or even delivering the speech. The hardest part was having to step away from something he loved. 

In early January, when David returned to Iowa State, he knew it was time to step back from Student Government. And at the Senate meeting on January 18, he did just that.

During the closing announcements, David brought his laptop and read off the notes he wanted to say.

“The worst things happen to the best people — because David’s one of the best members we’ve had in Student Government and one of the hugest advocates for students that I’ve ever seen,” said Staudt, who was the student body president when David stepped down from his role. “And for him to have to step down, and step away from the organization and work he loves to protect his health, it was just surreal that something like that could happen to him.”

A diagnosis

The doctors found spots in his brain after an MRI in Ames. The type of spots you see in patients with multiple sclerosis, but they wanted a specialist to confirm it.

After nearly a month of fearing the unknown, a specialist in Iowa City diagnosed David with MS.

Most people will have multiple episodes that tip doctors off that someone has MS. But for David, it was one singular instance.

The specialist in Iowa City, looked at the MRI for about one minute and knew it was definitely MS and wanted to get him started on medicine right away.

“It was upsetting, obviously. But it was just something, I knew I could handle,” David said. “It was odd because I’d never gotten something like that before. But also knowing about the field, also helps you come to an understanding with it too.”

MS is believed to affect 2.3 million people worldwide and because there is not one test or set of symptoms associated with the disease, it can often go misdiagnosed, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.  

The immune system starts fighting the central nervous system in those with MS, according to NMSS, which then cause a variety of symptoms.

“I think it was almost a relief when I got diagnosed because it’s like, OK, I know what it is now instead of the mystery thing that affected me for a little bit. At that point, doctors have a plan, with the medication, and then I’m just going to get back to work with school and stuff like that.”

The disease has four types, according to the NMSS. The type David has is called relapsing-remitting MS, which causes defined attacks followed by full or partial recovery. 

“I go through stages where I’m fine, like right now, and then I’ll go through stages where I have that episode,” he said.

So far, David hasn’t had another relapse, but in March while taking the MCAT — a full day’s test — his hands started going numb part way through.

There’s no cure for MS as of right now, but the goal of David’s medication is to slow the progression.

Wanting to be a doctor some day, he started looking into the research about MS. Now, it’s a goal of his to go to medical school and specialize in MS research or neurology in general.

In one of his kinesiology classes this semester, he presented a poster on the disease. At the same time, he’s still trying to figure out how the disease affects him.

“I’m always on guard…and I wonder, is that a new symptom?” he said. “It’s an invisible disability. It’s important for people to know on campus because I’m definitely not the only one who has a disease like this. There’s a lot of things that can be happening with other people’s lives and we need to be compassionate about those issues.”

Reflecting on Student Government

From representing the College of Human Sciences as a senator, serving on committees, being the Director of Special Events and being the Director of Student Services, David now knows the ins and outs of Student Government. But it wasn’t always that way. 

David recalls his first meetings as a Student Government senator representing the College of Human Science his sophomore year.

“I think I said something — I can’t remember what it was — but I think I was completely out of line, not even close to what they were talking about at the time,” David laughed. “I got called out at the time I remember.

“It’s definitely a little intimidating at first, but after some outside studying of Robert’s Rules you kind of catch onto it quickly,” he said.

After getting into the swing of things and joining Rules Committee to better understand the bylaws, he proposed his first bill in the spring of his sophomore year.

David proposed a bill advocating for restructuring the funding for the scholarships and parking passes the top Student Government leaders received. His bill proposed that the president get a full in-state scholarship, the vice president get half in-state tuition and the finance director would get full in-state tuition, while also adding allocations for the speaker and vice speaker. In effect, the bill sought to spread the allocations across more people.  

The Senate passed the bill, the president vetoed it and the Senate overrode the veto.

Throughout his time, being good stewards of students’ money was important to David.

“I’ve always been critical of how much we’re spending on certain things, especially when it’s for us [Student Government] or even just things that aren’t going to affect a lot of people, we’ve got to be careful about.”

Then his junior year, David stepped into his role as the Director of Special Events, primarily spending his time planning the Big 12 on the Hill, which is where Big 12 student governments spend time advocating for the conference in D.C.

David planned everything from the itinerary, to travel plans and coordinating between all the schools in the conference. Some of the highlights included hearing from Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley during the time he was resisting confirming a new U.S. Supreme Court Justice and learning about the students from the other student governments, he said.

When some members of this year’s Student Government went to the annual Big 12 on the Hill, this year not planned by Iowa State, they realized just how much David did to make the previous year so successful, Staudt said.

“I didn’t realize before, but the work that goes into that really helped Iowa State set itself a part in how its student government functions and sets itself apart from other Big 12 schools,” Staudt said.

Even after stepping down this year, David has still been involved in campaigning and helping with other Student Government initiatives.

“You don’t really ever resign from Student Government it feels like,” David laughed.

Go getter

Cody West and David are cut from the same cloth. They both share plans to pursue medical school. They both like old school country. They are both Denver Broncos fans. And when David gets married in May, West will be in the wedding.

West is the current president of the student body and former vice president when David was serving on cabinet. David helped out on both the Staudt-West and West-Smith campaigns for Student Government president and vice president.

“He’s a go getter,” West said. “He doesn’t let anything get in his way.”

On the night that David stepped down from Student Government, West left his seat as vice president and assumed his place as friend. He stood behind him at the podium for moral support as David both choked up and laughed as he recalled his time in Student Government and told the Senate he had to step down. 

“He does acknowledge that it [MS] is a barrier for him, but he’ll never let it be,” West said. “You can get tired and sick in school, but having something that actually takes away your ability to operate on a day to day basis was something completely foreign to him.”

West said that David has supported him through any major events or accomplishments.

“We always talk about our parents as our biggest fans, but if I had to talk about another student who is my biggest fan, it’d be David,” West said.

‘Just go do it’

Though it wasn’t always easy — in fact, admittedly scary at times — David said he realized everyone goes through rough things in college.

Having made an impact in Student Government, serving the College of Human Sciences, being named the Homecoming King on Cardinal Court in the fall, getting engaged to his high school sweetheart and being inducted into the Cardinal Key Honor Society, David will soon be an Iowa State alum.

And he wants to leave a piece of advice for students. 

“We always give ourselves tons of reasons not to do things,” he said. “Just go do it.”