Four years ago, the N.C. High School Athletic Association was deciding whether to add wheelchair standards to its sanctioned long-distance running events in track and field.
One of the arguments Jill Moore's family and supporters made on her behalf was that wheelchair athletes can earn college athletic scholarships, just like able-bodied athletes.
Jill Moore would go on to set records and win state championships as a member of Northwest Cabarrus High's track-and-field team.
Last month, she became Cabarrus County's first wheelchair athlete to sign a national letter of intent to compete in college.
Because no N.C. college or university has a formal wheelchair athletic program - something Moore would like to change in the long term - she had to look elsewhere. So she will compete for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which has one of the nation's strongest programs.
A distinguished athlete
Moore, born with spina bifida, has competed since she was 9 in such a long list of sports that it could rival the Olympics' TV schedule.
In high school, she has excelled mostly in swimming, track and basketball.
In 2007, she was invited to play in the Day of Difference Games in Australia, an event for athletes under age 20. Though Moore was then 14, her women's basketball team won a silver medal at the international competition, losing the gold to the U.S. men's team.
In August she won another silver medal, swimming the 50-yard butterfly at the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation Junior World Games in the Czech Republic.
Also last summer, in track and field at the U.S. Paralympic Trials, Moore set a personal best mark in the 200 meters with a time of 35:85 seconds, just 0.85 second off the time required to participate in the Paralympics, wheelchair sports' equivalent of the Olympics.
Being so close to world-class standards, Moore attracted the attention of college coaches. In the close-knit world of wheelchair sports, college teams often competed at the same events that Jill Moore would attend, just in a different division.
Only a handful of colleges nationwide (about a dozen by Gary Moore's count) have formal wheelchair athletic programs. Jill Moore said a lot of her communication with college coaches was by email.
Moore took visits to the two schools that offered her athletic scholarships: Arizona and Illinois. (In fact, while she was on an October visit to Illinois, Moore was crowned Northwest Cabarrus' homecoming queen in absentia.)
At Arizona, Moore got to practice with the women's wheelchair basketball and track teams and attended a women's NCAA basketball game. Moore felt like it was the right place to be.
Then on her trip to Illinois, she visited a wheelchair basketball team practice and attended an NCAA volleyball game. Partly because of Illinois wheelchair track coach Adam Blakeny's reputation for developing Paralympic athletes, Moore said, Illinois felt like "the much better fit."
Moore said she plans to compete only in track during her freshman year. After that, she's open to possibly adding basketball to her collegiate repertoire.
The Paralympics run in conjunction with the Olympic Games every four years. One of Moore's goals is to compete in either London in 2012 or Rio de Janeiro in 2016. But that is not her goal of greatest importance.
In the long term, she hopes future wheelchair athletes in North Carolina don't have to turn to out-of-state programs to receive college athletic scholarships, as she had to.
After college graduation, Moore hopes to continue her pioneering ways by returning to her home state and developing a wheelchair sports program at a college in North Carolina.