By Bob Shepard
Seth Moates was a young man when he was injured in a construction incident that left him in a wheelchair. He subsequently worked for 23 years as a complex rehabilitation technologist with DME Services, a Birmingham company that provides wheelchair and complex rehabilitation services.
“He truly was a one-of-a-kind individual who could accomplish more than anyone thought possible,” said Pete Allen, president of DME Services. “He would not be told no. He would not be told he couldn’t do something that somebody else could do. Not only would he do it, he’d probably do it better than anybody else would. That’s exactly the kind of guy he was.”
After Moates’ death in 2015 from cancer, DME Services, wheelchair manufacturer TiLite and the University of Alabama at Birmingham Spain Rehabilitation Center created the Seth Moates Mobility Program to honor his spirit and positive attitude.
The program will annually donate a custom wheelchair to a deserving individual who best embodies Moates’ uncompromising approach to living with disability.
“Seth was such a key figure in the state of Alabama with helping people with disabilities, even though he had a disability himself,” said Jason Simpson, area sales manager for TiLite. “He never let that define him. He never felt sorry for himself. He was always trying to do the right thing, trying to help people.”
David Moultry is the first recipient of a wheelchair from the Seth Moates Mobility Program. He suffered a spinal cord injury 16 years ago, and now works in customer service at American Family Care. Moultry is raising his three children on his own.
“I had the opportunity to meet Seth during my recovery, and he was a good man,” Moultry said. “He really inspired me to get to the place where I am now. He encouraged and motivated me, even though he was also confined to a wheelchair. He inspired me, and now I’m able to inspire others.”
UAB physical therapist Cathy Carver worked with both Moates and Moultry over the years.
“David came to the clinic a few months ago needing some repairs on his chair,” Carver said. “I asked him some questions about his day-to-day life, his family, how he spent his days, and it went off like a light bulb. He was it. He was the ideal choice to be the inaugural beneficiary of the Seth Moates Mobility Program.”
Moultry received his new chair Sept. 6 at a small ceremony at UAB’s Spain Rehab in front of Moates’ family.
“I thought David was the right choice because he was independent and he did not let his disability define him,” Carver said. “He never saw barriers; he saw opportunities. That’s exactly the embodiment of Seth Moates. In David, I saw independence; I saw him rise to the occasion. He is raising his three children, and he has sought out employment. He lives the same life everybody else does. He just does it on wheels.”