I Ride for Nick’s Eyes

A Biker’s plea for help proves humanity of online communities.

On Oct. 23, Nick Moore learned that he was going blind.

Moore’s face does not look like a blind man’s face. He looks young, trendy and invulnerable at first glance. There is no sign of old age, no drooping lids.

Nonetheless, the 24-year-old graphic designer could be completely blind in a matter of years.

In a stunningly short amount of time, Moore’s story has been remodeled from one of heart-wrenching tragedy to one of hope, support and community.

THE PROBLEM

Moore, a mountain biking enthusiast who runs a biking gear company called Demon Dirt, was having trouble with left-handed turns. He crashed once on a turn, breaking his arm and getting a concussion. He thought the problem might be that he needed glasses.

“I went in to a simple eye exam, and they let me know that because my eye was so bad, I was going blind,” Moore said. “I found out that I was [nearly] blind in my left eye, and it was kind of a shock. … They told me I needed to go see a surgeon, so then a couple days later I went and learned what the problem actually was.”

Moore was told he had a degenerative genetic disease called keratoconus.

“My body produces an enzyme that breaks down the connective tissues in my cornea,” he said. “Your cornea starts to warp and bubble and coil in on itself.”

The disease generally affects victims later in life and is the number one reason for corneal transplants. As a young graphic designer, however, Moore was not interested in waiting for his eyes to get bad enough to warrant a transplant. Transplanted corneas also require stitches to be left in for about a year, and there is always the risk that Moore’s body would reject the transplants.

Knowing these risks, Moore learned about a surgery called collagen crosslinking, or CR-3, with Intacs.

THE PLAN

“[CR-3 is] a procedure that’s not FDA-approved, yet … it’s been going on in other countries for the past ten years,” Moore said. “There are only about five [doctors] in the U.S. who are doing it. They inject riboflavin and collagen into your corneas, and then they bond it to your eye using a UV light. Then there’s a process called Intacs where they place two plastic half moons in your eye, and it stretches the cornea back into shape.”

Since the procedure is not FDA-approved, Moore’s health insurance would not pay for it. Very few doctors are practicing the procedure regularly in the U.S., and the costs are steep. Moore estimated that CR-3 would cost a minimum of $20,000 for both eyes.

He was able to get an early November appointment in Los Angeles with Dr. Brian Boxer, one of the few surgeons practicing CR-3, but the cost of the procedure was impossibly high for the young newlywed to pay alone.

Moore knew that the only way to get help was to forgo pride and ask for it. Within two days of learning about his disease, he started a viral marketing campaign within the online mountain biking community.

“I was pretty bummed out about it, and then I realized all you can really do is fight,” Moore said. “So I started the I Ride for Nick’s Eyes Foundation. Really the whole reason there’s hope in my life is because of the mountain biking community.”

In using the Internet to ask for help, Moore’s faith in humanity has been rejuvenated.

“Facebook and stuff like that isn’t really only for creeping on other people’s pictures,” Moore said. “It’s a community where people are willing to help. Social media does have some downfalls, but it lets people connect with people and be human.

“I think when you’re human through the Internet, it’s such a cold environment sometimes that when you’re human, people respond. There are people who are scared or suffering from diseases right now, and the best thing you can do is reach out and ask for help.

“It was hard for me to let down that fear and pride and say that I just couldn’t do it by myself. But I did, and there was a huge response.”

THE RESPONSE

Moore made a simple seven-minute video and posted it on one of the leading mountain bike forum sites, PinkBike.com – within 72 hours, the page had 10,000 hits and hundreds of comments.

To benefit I Ride for Nick’s Eyes, Moore designed a jersey, t-shirt and sticker with the foundation’s logo. He put them up for sale at DemonDirt.com where in two days, over 100 jerseys and 80 t-shirts were sold.

Mike Metzker, a friend of Moore’s and part of Transition Bike Company made a phone call to PinkBike.com and got the video posted at the top of their front page, then began setting up an eBay auction to benefit I Ride for Nick’s Eyes. Items in the auction include custom color frames, biking accessories, merchandise signed by professional bikers and more.

Camp of Champions, an elite summer camp for outdoor sports enthusiasts, is even donating a $2,000 8-day summer camp session to one random person who purchases a jersey.

“The mountain bike community has outreached and shown so much love for me, and I think if anything, I want people to know how strong a family … they’ve been,” Moore said. “Even a lot of the people donating don’t know who I am, they just know I ride a bike.”

In running Demon Dirt, Moore has toured the country meeting bikers and, as he calls it, “starting good karma.”

“I think that it’s just karma coming back in, even for stupid things like how we would bring water to events [on tour] and give away free water bottles,” Moore said. “These little things are coming back now in like hundreds of dollars, and I just want to say thank you.”

Moore mentioned that the support he’s receiving from the mountain biking community is more than just monetary.

“What’s really overwhelming is that people who you would never think believe in any other higher power have been telling me that they’re praying for me,” Moore said. “People who have never admitted to having a faith have shown prayer, which has been really humbling.”

Moore intends to extend his karmic cycle, using I Ride for Nick’s Eyes to help other bikers with keratoconus. Any money raised beyond what is needed to pay for Moore’s medical bills will go towards a fund for other bikers with the disease.

Moore’s story shows the human power of online communities.

“The wonderful thing about the mountain bike community is that riders don’t let other riders fall.”

HOW TO HELP

To buy shirts, jerseys, or stickers, go to
www.DemonDirt.com

Donate directly at www.demondirt.com by clicking on “GIVE NOW.” The whole donated amount goes to the cause and you get a charitable receipt for tax deductions.

Become a fan of Demon Dirt on Facebook for updates on the eBay auction and other donation opportunities.

Editor’s note: Nick Moore is married to
Audrey Moore, who is the lead designer for The V.

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