It’s not often you get the chance to help someone make their dream happen – and make sure it’s possible for New Mexico to get some of the best ribs ever made. But with the launch today of Andre’s Ribs Kickstarter, you can help a disabled vet fulfill his passion. If you’d like to know more about Andre, his bio is below this video. But even if you can only donate $5, it all helps. And if you can share this with your friends, please do. Let’s support this injured military veteran and make Andre’s Ribs a reality. Let’s help Andre and Watch New Mexico Rise
Andre Moore knows a lot about picking up the pieces of shattered dreams and putting them back together to find a new purpose in life. A disabled Army medic, Moore is a former high school football player who grew up in a two-bedroom house in Deastville, Alabama, with his grandmother, mother, and as one of the oldest of seven siblings. As the oldest brother, Moore learned early on how to cook for his family and discovered a love for baking after learning the secrets of southern baking under the guidance of his grandmother and mother. “One year when my mom was sick, she couldn’t make the red velvet cakes she made every year for her co-workers. So I made them for her. When they all raved and said they were the best cakes she’d ever made, she told them it was me that had made them. I made them every year after that.”
“It wasn’t long after that that I learned I was good at cooking meat,” he recalls. “I was in high school and needed another elective, so I took Home Economics. There was this beef cook off, and I came in second place with this roast beef recipe I got out of a Betty Crocker cookbook.”
For a child who grew up where food was scarce, creating dishes that bring pleasure to his friends is about more than the joy of good-tasting food. “If you eat with people, you got time with somebody that’s more wholehearted than just meeting someone. To give someone food that is quality, that other people can enjoy, too – that’s important.”
It doesn’t take long into a conversation with Moore to realize that behind his slow smile and quiet demeanor lies an inquisitive, intelligent mind, but it wasn’t his intelligence that he thought would be his ticket out of the low income community where he grew up.
“The school where we went was predominantly white, much more privileged than the neighborhood where I lived, and I spent most of my time on the defensive. Somewhere around 6th or 7th grade, I got into a fight in PE, and the PE teacher was our assistant football coach, so instead of me getting kicked out for a year, he made a deal where I could play football to get out all of that aggression on the field in a productive way.” After a handful of games on the junior varsity team, Moore was identified as a highly talented player and moved up quickly to varsity.
I had a lot of success playing the positons of linebacker for Holtville High. I hoped to maybe make it to play for some college team, like Alabama. But that did not happen. I think that growing up in such a small area and not have access to the resources or lack of knowledge needed to fully display my talent is ultimately was what kept this from happening. Mid way through my 11th grad year I realized that I would have to find a new option to make something of myself.
His dreams of a full ride to college on a football scholarship disintegrated. Despondent and desperate to find a new plan for his life, Moore chose to enlist in the National Guard through a joint high school program at the tender age of 17, serving as a Water Purifier. “I was part of an advance unit. It was my job to go out and set up an offset site, to find a water supply and create a clean water supply for our team,” says Moore. “I think that is when I first discovered I liked science and why I still like to do science stuff now, why I’m more into chemistry even with my cooking.”
After graduation, Moore left the National Guard to serve as a medic for the U.S. Army. “I immediately shipped to Fort Sam in Houston, Texas for AIT training to become a medic. After twelve weeks of training, But on his last day of training, terrorists attacked the United States, flying passenger airlines into skyscrapers in New York City and into the Pentagon.
“I worked as a medic for a year stationed at Fort Stewart in Georgia attached to a mechanized unit, you know – scouts, tankers – it was the 4/64 Armor Division.” His face lights up as he talks about his time spent serving his country. “I loved it – the job, the type of work. I got to meet a lot of people.”
When deployment orders to Kuwait came in 2002, Moore was excited to serve his country. The young medic was with his unit conducting a maneuver exercise in an APC 557 when the vehicle hit a downed tree. Medical cases secured inside the vehicle jarred loose and hit Moore in his back, causing his spine to shift.
“My commanding officer, and later the medical board, basically gave me the choice. I couldn’t deploy with my unit, but I could stay in the military. I opted to stay,” said Moore.
But three days before the unit was scheduled to ship out, Moore was diagnosed with a heart murmur. With this new diagnosis, even the option of staying on in the military was removed. Moore was discharged due to a permanent medical disability.
In that moment, yet another dream was shattered for the young man from Alabama.
Cut loose from the military with a permanent disability, Moore found it more difficult this time to pick up the pieces of his life. “I was back home, first working at the Pizza Hut where I’d worked as a kid, and then at a casino. I was on blood thinners for my heart. I couldn’t do anything. It was such a change in lifestyle. I’d always been out, always active.” To escape a life that felt like it was closing in on him, he spent hours on his computer and playing video games.
Moore credits a colleague at the casino where he was working with giving him the courage to try yet again to start over on a new dream, a new purpose for his life. “David Sampson, he pushed me towards bigger things in life than hanging out and taking jobs for whatever,” says Moore. “He found out about my history, and he inspired me to do more than I was. He told me his story, how he came to the U.S. with no money, how he got a degree, became a shoe store manager, then a job at a bank before becoming a head auditor for the casino. If it hadn’t been for him, I don’t know if I would have ever thought of going to school again.”
At the encouragement of family friends, Moore packed up his life once again and transplanted himself in the high desert of Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he first trained and worked as a dental assistant and finally enrolled in the University of New Mexico on the GI Bill and then Chapter 31, both military programs which pay for tuition for veterans. “I’m two semesters away from graduating with a degree in Biochemistry,” says Moore. He enrolled initially with the intent of attending dental school, but as he watches his baby daughter get bigger, he is weighing his options with his new family in mind. “Some days I want to, some days I’m don’t. Four more years of school, when she needs me to be providing more than I can as a student … I just don’t know if it is what I should be doing. And my passion has always been food, so if I can pursue my passion…”. His voice trails off into silence, as if saying it out loud just may make the possibility of accomplishing his dream might make it vanish.
Moore recently saw the birth of his dream to share his joy of food with others when he attended a Startup Weekend in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “I wasn’t even sure if I was going to pitch. For a long time, I’d been doing ribs for my friends, and I’d perfected this technique that kind of blended my Alabama roots with the exciting spices I’ve grown to love in my home here in New Mexico. Everyone kept telling me I could sell my ribs, that people would love them. At Startup Weekend, just getting to know all those people and learning how to reach goals, it really intrigued me on what it would take for me to start a business.”
Since Startup Weekend, Moore’s dream has taken a few steps closer to reality. After several weeks of research and seeking advice from industry experts, the former football star and seasoned Army vet is now ready to take on the role of entrepreneur. “The energy you get from pushing towards something that is your own, that you did – the thought that I might be able to provide for my family while giving others a food experience that is worthwhile, not a processed experience, but organic, meaningful – knowing that people enjoyed it, that they felt that it was worthwhile…”. He stops speaking and smiles, and his smile says it all. He’s finally ready to put all the pieces of his last shattered dream back together and make something new out of it all.
Moore is launching a Kickstarter campaign in hopes of securing the needed funds to purchase a used food truck and smoker and take his ribs on the road to share with others. If you’d like to help him accomplish his dreams, you can contribute to his Kickstarter. It isn’t often we have the opportunity to make a dream a reality for someone else, but this is one time when those who contribute will benefit as well, since several levels of contributors will enjoy gift certificates towards his ribs as well as the possibility of joining Moore as he cooks up a monster pile of ribs as a benefit to help fund the dreams of other disabled veterans in his own community.