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Marion Moore was on top of the world. As a young adult, he proudly walked across the stage in front of his peers at Wofford College with visions of a starting a family, running his own business and putt putting on the golf course in his spare time.

All soon materialized for Moore a few years later as he found himself happily married and a father of three with his own real estate business — The Moore Company.

And yes, playing golf when time allowed.

However, on a Jan. 4, 1998, a fateful golf swing would number Moore's golf playing days and change his whole perspective on life.

Feeling a catch in his back, Moore suffered with progressively worsening pains for the next few weeks before discovering his condition was more severe than first identified. A disc had penetrated his spinal cord, causing temporary paralysis, a condition doctor's informed him was a rarity.

Through a year of agonizing rehabilitation at Shepherd's Spinal Clinic in Atlanta and The Regional Medical Center's HealthPlex, Moore gradually progressed from a wheelchair, to cane, and three years later, finds himself walking unaided.

The trials overcome and the endurance displayed since are just some of the reasons Marion Moore exemplifies the August "Community of Character" trait of determination.

"I was really sad and depressed when the reality hit me that I might not be able to walk again," Moore reminisced. "However, seeing my gradual improvement inspired me to work harder and harder."

"Therapy was agonizing at times, and even today I still have my good days and bad days," Moore continued. "I may not be able to walk any better, but by keeping a positive attitude, and having the mindset to make the best of life, things have really worked out for the better."

Plenty of positive vibes and determination are one thing. But support from family, friends and co-workers was "unbelievable," said Moore.

"The great thing about living in Orangeburg is the great sense of community," Moore said. "All have really given me the opportunity to get back on my feet again."

Just prior to his paralysis, the merger of The Moore Company and Century 21 was still fresh in the minds of many.

That merger, along with the arrival of Century 21's Jeannine Kees, Moore credits to Divine Providence.

"There is no doubt the Lord had His hand working through that situation," Moore said. "We came together in June of 1997 and a year-and-a-half later, I had the herniated disc."

"It was a total blessing to have Jeannine running the business during that time."

Kees, who had first met Moore in the late 80s, described him as a man of determination long before fate dealt him a difficult hand.

"Marion and I began to talk about forming a partnership to offer the type of service we wanted to in the real estate business," Kees said. "We talked about partnering for eight years before we finally came together."

"After his back surgery, Marion was always upbeat and would always stress that attitude was the most important thing. He has been a real inspiration to me in maintaining a positive attitude and keeping focus during difficult times."

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Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce president Dede Blewer said the "Community of Character" selection committee wrestled with the selection from a number of worthy candidates for the trait of determination before settling on the real estate agent.

"Our thought process on choosing Marion was the determination he displayed in not letting his recent back injury and surgery stop him from doing what he loves," Blewer said. "He continues to play golf and remains a successful business man. All this has shown his determination to live beyond his handicap."

Several business leaders throughout the region echoed those sentiments.

Friend and owner of Cox Wood Preserving Company Billy Cox Jr. praised Moore for his "tireless efforts to support growth in the county."

"He really has shown character in recovering from his back surgery," Cox said. "The type of stamina he has demonstrated is the type he has shown in this community."

Citing Moore's contributions to the Carolina Regional Medical Park, Orangeburg County Development Commission director Hal Johnson described Moore as a man of "stature" and "dedication" in making the county a "better place to live, work and play."

"The pure fact Marion was told by doctors that he would never walk again is a daunting reality he had to face," Johnson said. "His determination to overcome the impossible should be an inspiration to each and every one of us in the community."

Despite all the praise and recognition, Moore simply says, "I have not done what no one else would have done in my situation."

T&D Staff Writer Gene Zaleski can be reached by e-mail at gzaleski@timesanddemocrat.com or by calling 803-533-5551.

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