When artist Wendy Moore died at age 29 after suffering head injuries in a skiing accident, her father, Dan T. Moore, an entrepreneur with 39 patents to his name, put his power of invention to work to build a better ski helmet. He spun that idea into headgear for soldiers that can stop a bullet. Today, the foam lining in every helmet used by the U.S. military is made in Cleveland by Team Wendy, the company Moore created to honor his daughter with the motto: “We innovate to protect.”
We read you founded 25 companies. Does that sound right?
It’s actually more than 301 Some of them are tiny, but some of them are good size. I try to sell them after a while. I like to start ’em. I don’t like to run ’em.
That’s the entrepreneurial spirit! What inspires you to be so creative?
I think it’s always looking for the unmet need and trying to listen very carefully to be sure that you understand what the problem is. Most of the time, it’s more difficult understanding the problem than it is solving the problem.
How do you inspire innovation in others?
It’s very difficult because at most companies, the focus is on the problem of the day. Can we get that machine fixed? Can we get that customer back? You don’t have a chance to get into the real meat of the subject, which is what you really should be doing. You have to create a culture where at the end of every meeting, you talk about newness. And you reward those new ideas with compensation, but also in nonfinancial ways like giving credit.
Of the many accomplishments in your life, is there one you’re most proud of?
Gosh, that’s an interesting question. It’s sort of like saying, “Which child do you like the most?” Team Wendy is important. Wendy Park and the bridge are important.2 My involvement with Cleveland Clinic is important.3
Why do you ride in VeloSano?
VeloSano is one of the most creative fundraising projects I’ve seen — not only raising money for cancer research, but also focusing on one of Cleveland Clinic’s main missions of keeping people healthy. Bicycling is a wonderful sport for older people, and at 82 years old, I qualify. Biking is an excellent cardiovascular workout, and it doesn’t damage your already compromised skeleton the way running does. And, of course, VeloSano is not just one cardiovascular event. I prepare for it for several months.
How do you decide where to give?
I focus upon my interests and unmet needs and where I can do the most good. And I do think neurology is the new frontier of medicine.4 Currently, half of the people who are 85 years old have some form of dementia, and many will live longer. They’re going to need a lot of help. When dementia sets in, you lose who you are. The neurology building? The only thing wrong with it is we couldn’t do it earlier. It is a vitally important project.5
- Moore’s companies make everything from hospital ventilators to green tray systems so people can grow succulents and grasses on their rooftops.
- Moore fought for decades to transform a once-desolate mile-long peninsula in Cleveland near the mouth of the Cuyahoga River into an urban park and marina named after his daughter, who liked to roam the area with her camera. The 500-foot-long Wendy Park Bridge, completed in 2021, connects bikers and joggers to Wendy Park’s 22 acres of green space, some 260 species of birds and outstanding views of downtown.
- Moore, a member of the 1921 Society, has served on Cleveland Clinic’s Board of Trustees for more than 25 years.
- Physician-scientists at Cleveland Clinic were among the earliest innovators in deep brain stimulation (DBS) to treat Parkinson’s disease, essentially installing a pacemaker for the brain. Moore is helping fund a first-of-its-kind study to investigate the potential for DBS to restore motor and cognitive skills in patients who have suffered a traumatic brain injury.
- A new home for Cleveland Clinic’s Neurological Institute will be the first neurological care center purpose-built for the digitization of patient data and distance health. Doors are expected to open in 2026.