Thibodaux man turns personal tragedy into hope for students

THIBODAUX, LA (WVUE) - A Thibodaux man almost lost everything in one play on the football field. What happened after that changed the lives of others for the better.

A small building in West Thibodaux fosters promise. It's the M.D. Wright Academic Center. Its founder, Myron Wright, is a quadriplegic who challenges kids to look beyond their limitations just like he does.

"I was a baller," Wright said in a documentary he made about his life and his love for athletics.

He focused on the play in the last game of the season with the Thibodaux High football team that put him in a wheelchair.

"It was November 8, 2002. It was a fumble play, and I fell back," Wright said. "The only thing I could feel was my legs floating. I never blacked out, never cried. I was glad I was alive."

Rushed to Thibodaux Regional Medical Center, doctors told him he had a fractured vertebra near his spinal chord and was paralyzed from the shoulders down. The accident plays over and over in his mind.

"I think about it every day. I try not to, but you always think about if I'd made the block this way or made the block that way," Wright said.

Thibodeaux Regional CEO Greg Stock's son played basketball with Wright.

"He was going somewhere with athleticism. He would have played college football. You realize in a moment that it is gone," Stock said. "That's a big paradigm shift for everybody. Why did this happen to him?"

It was devastating to a family already struggling to make it. Wright's mother was pregnant with him when she graduated from high school.

"My mom had us very young," Wright said. "She had my brother when she was 14. I  seen the struggle she went through to get her light bill paid. I saw my daddy get laid off."

Wright decided to shift his focus from sports to education.

"No matter what you may lose in life, your education can't be taken from you," he said.

He graduated from high school with five academic scholarships, and from Nicholls State with a bachelors degree in business management. He was looking for employment.

Stock offered him a job at Thibodaux Regional's Spine Center. It's the same place he was in ICU in 2002. There, Wright inputs patient files into the computer system with a high-tech, voice-activated computer program. It's his day job that gave him the resources to earn his MBA from Southern University online in 2016 and more time to research his true passion. He loves giving back to the kids at the center he opened in his neighborhood on the west side of Thibodaux..

"Monday, high school. Tuesday, middle school. Wednesday, elementary school," he said ticking off the schedule.

With a team of volunteers, the staff tackles everything academic. Even school projects.

One student said he gets better grades because Wright helps him study.

"I actually see myself in the kids. They want something out of life. I try to give them encouragement that you can be anything," he said.

He calls an A on a paper a touchdown or a three-pointer.

There's a picture of 16-year-old Wright that hangs in the center to show the kids the teenager he once was, and to prove to them he's still standing.

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