Credo Award

March 7, 2024

A fierce patient advocate, physical therapist Sarah Moran is a champion for children with disabilities

“Sarah is truly the unsung hero. It is because of her diligence, leadership, communication and dedication that hundreds of children in Tennessee and their families had memorable experiences this summer at triathlons and camps.”

Sarah Moran, PT, DPT, PCS, ATP, CPST, physical therapist. Photo by Erin O. Smith.

Physical therapist Sarah Moran, PT, DPT, PCS, ATP, CPST, loves being able to match children with disabilities to adaptive equipment that can help them be as independent as possible.

She is passionate about her job in the Seating and Mobility Clinic at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt Pediatric Rehabilitation Services, where she helps lead adaptive sports initiatives like Tri My Best Triathlon throughout the year. Last year, she helped bring a power soccer clinic to Nashville for both child and adult power wheelchair users.

Moran, who is also co-director of the Vanderbilt Adaptive Sports program, Vanderbilt Children’s CHAMPions, is a “wealth of information for patient and families on community resources” for children with disabilities, according to comments from leaders who nominated her for a Credo Award. She was honored with the award at the January VUMC Leadership Assembly.

“It is because of her diligence, leadership, communication and dedication that hundreds of children in Tennessee and their families had memorable experiences last summer at triathlons and camps,” the nomination read.

Moran spends the majority of her time in the Seating and Mobility Clinic at Vanderbilt Health One Hundred Oaks where she works three days a week. She works alongside complex rehabilitation technology vendors to evaluate children for their adaptive equipment and mobility needs. She is also an assistive technology professional and a child passenger safety technician.

“We talk about their functional limitations and present families with options for mobility equipment that may improve their quality of life, help them to be more efficient with their mobility, and help train children and their caregivers to use the equipment,” Moran said.

The mother of two boys and expecting her third this year, Moran said “a heart for service” has run through her family for generations. Both grandmothers were very active in their communities, and her parents often volunteered. Connecting families to community resources for adaptive sports and recreation and seeing a child become more independent through the use of assistive technology brings her joy.

“My favorite thing to do is evaluate patients for their very first manual wheelchairs because it’s so much fun to see their eyes light up when they realize they can be independent and move on their own,” she said.

For the past four years, Moran has served as the primary mentor in the outpatient setting for the pediatric physical therapy resident and co-teaches in the Belmont University Master of Occupational Therapy program. “She is highly regarded for her expertise and knowledge and takes time to mentor not only the resident but also her peers as well,” one nominator wrote.

“Sarah is a natural leader … and a fierce patient advocate providing resources for her patients, working to develop increased recreation opportunities for our patients through the Vanderbilt Adaptive Sports Program and volunteering her time on the board of directors of ABLE Youth, a local nonprofit organization that encourages independence and sports participation for children with disabilities,” another wrote on Moran’s nomination.

When Moran discovered a gap in adaptive sports offerings in Middle Tennessee, and no programs specific for power wheelchair users, she took the initiative to contact a representative within the United States Power Soccer Association, and plans were hatched to host the power soccer clinic. And due to interest generated from this clinic, through a partnership she developed with the Metro Parks disABILITIES program, there are plans for an ongoing power wheelchair soccer league.

“Our work through Vanderbilt Children’s CHAMPions has been well supported by Monroe Carell leadership which has allowed us to provide adaptive sports opportunities to children with disabilities throughout our community and expand our programming,” Moran said.

“Sarah is truly the unsung hero,” a nominator wrote. “It is because of her diligence, leadership, communication and dedication that hundreds of children in Tennessee and their families had memorable experiences this summer at triathlons and camps. These opportunities would not otherwise have been possible, and the impact of this is immeasurable.”

View Sarah Moran’s video from Leadership Assembly here.

If you are a VUMC employee, you can nominate a colleague for an Elevate Credo Award, Five Pillar Leader Award, or Team Award. Visit the Elevate website to fill out a nomination form. Employees demonstrate credo behaviors when: they make those they serve the highest priority; respect privacy and confidentiality; communicate effectively; conduct themselves professionally; have a sense of ownership; and are committed to their colleagues. Elevate award nominations are accepted year-round. If a nomination is received after the cut off for an award selection period, the nomination will be considered for the next period. VUMC VOICE will post stories on each of the award winners in the weeks following their announcement.