I have enjoyed reading all of the wonderful stories and posts that people have shared about Black History Makers during Black History Month. Truth be told, black folks make history everyday for the sheer fact that we live in a country that was not designed for us. And still we rise. I love reading about our people and the great things we’ve overcome, the many contributions we’ve have made to society that oftentimes go un-noticed and un-credited. Yet, still we rise.
I asked myself, “why hadn’t I posted or written about anyone for Black History Month?” One reason is because I celebrate us everyday. I speak the names of and pray for many who are out there in the trenches doing grass root work to better and advance our communities. We make history every day. This country was built by the hands, the strength, the brain power, the sweat, the tears, the prayers and on the backs of our ancestors. Yet, we are still having to fight just to stay alive during a simple traffic stop. And still we rise.
So, when I thought about who to write about on this last weekend in February, it was a no brainer. I want to share with you a remarkable story of strength, perseverance, love, compassion and an inborn will to fight and win. I’m talking about my nephew, Adrian Wright.
Adrian was not born to a family great wealth or prominence. He born to ordinary, hard working parents. A mom and dad who worked hard to make sure he and his siblings had a fair shot in life. He was born into a family where he was loved and cherished by us all.
He entrance into the world was celebrated because we had not had a baby in our family for well over a decade. So, we were excited. Then out of no where…our joy turned into sorrow and fear when Adrian was diagnosed with (cancer) Retinal Blastoma (tumor in my left eye) as an infant. I can remember that time so clearly. My brother, Adrian’s father, came to my mom’s hair salon with Adrian in his arms and dropped to his knees in tears and said, “Mother they said my baby has cancer.”
Members from both sides of the family gathered and we all convoyed to Atlanta where Adrian would have surgery to have his left eye removed. He would then follow with lots of treatment including chemotherapy. Prayer warriors around the world prayed and once again, our family witnessed a miracle. I said once again, because in the mid-sixties my mother had breast cancer and had been healed.
As an auntie, I watched Adrian fight. Even though he was a baby…he fought and he won. He was never treated differently from the other kids and we simply never saw him differently. He made excellent grades in school, was a model child. Now, I’m not crazy, I’m sure he did somethings as a teenager that I didn’t know about. But in my eyes, he was the perfect kid and an even perfect man.
I watched as he graduated from college, actually the first college graduate in our family. I watched as he embarked upon a career as the band director of a high school in the small town of Dillion, SC. The only job he’s had since he graduated college. He bucked the system there and created a new one that would help the kids in that town grow and expand. I watched as he married the love of his life…his wife whom I adore, Kadra McQueen Wright. She’s the epitome of grace, beauty, strength and commitment. I’ve learned so much from Kadra. She’s our darling beauty.
In 2012, a tumor was discovered in Adrian’s bladder and he was given a diagnosis of Leiomyosarcoma of the bladder. To have this occur in the bladder was extremely rare. He actually had part of his bladder removed during the Thanksgiving Holidays. I saw the same look in my brother’s eyes that I saw when Adrian was a baby. But God once again did his thing and yes, our darling Kadra was right there by his side. Adrian was healed once again and the two of them went right back to serving their community.
Over the years, at Dillion High School, Adrian was more than just a band director. He became a pillar in the community. Because of his commitment to his students, the youth in Dillion County have received millions of dollars in college scholarships and many are first time generation high school and college graduates. Adrian and Kadra have literally committed their lives to the students and the town of Dillion.
Fast forward, in 2020 Adrian became a committed cyclist, in just a few months he went from cycling 12 miles with his wife to riding over 40 miles with a group of advanced cyclists that embraced him as a novice rider. On December 21st, Adrian’s 43rd birthday, he set out to cycle alone to celebrate his birthday by tackling his first half century ride (50 miles). While cycling he was involved in a hit and run crash in which a pickup truck, ran over him and left him for dead. Adrian was later found on the side of the road, alert and responsive, but unable to move. We attribute Adrian’s survival on God’s healing power and grace as well as the passersby that found him and rendered aid.
Emergency responders transported Adrian to the local hospital, while in route they addressed his hypothermic state. Upon arriving at the hospital numerous assessments and scans were conducted, identifying multiple serious injuries. The medical team stabilized Adrian and immediately transferred him to a trauma hospital where he underwent emergency surgery upon arrival. Adrian’s injuries included a C2 vertebra fracture, acromioclavicular (AC) joint separation, collapsed lung, artery damage to a kidney and a mangled leg that included multiple collapsed arteries and fractures. Due to these extensive leg injures it was determined Adrian’s functional ability would never be restored which resulted in him receiving an above the knee amputation.
Adrian was on the ventilator and in a medically induced coma for 11 days before he learned of his serious injuries. On January 3rd, Adrian underwent a life changing procedure. He had his left leg amputated and continued to battle multiple issues that resulted to a hospital stay of 24 days. He then was transferred to a local rehab facility where he received extensive therapy for 21 days. After emerging victoriously from this life changing event, finally Adrian returned to his home on February 3rd. Despite his awesome progress and return home, he has a long road ahead of him and he’s not even sure what his future will hold.
Yet, Adrian is optimistic and thanking God for his life. When we talk, he’s anxious about his next level purpose…whatever that will look like. But one thing for sure, he wants it to be about helping others. I’ve never seen so much fight and will to win in a person. He was sharing with me the other day that he wanted to make sure his seniors are getting what they need so they can get into college. He’s home trying to rehab, yet his heart is with his students.
Adrian has shown me what it means to not give up, to never quit and to do it with grace and dignity. Not once has he shown any bitterness towards the person who did this to him. In fact, our family has made a point not to talk about it, but to focus on and celebrate Adrian’s recovery and healing. And yes, Kadra, her family…especially her twin sister Kendra and her husband, Adrian’s mom and the entire Dillion Community are there to support him along the way. Unfortunately, his father is no longer with us. He passed away in 2018.
So if you ask me who I want to celebrate and recognize this Black History Month…it would be my nephew, my hero, Mr. Adrian Wright.
His town of Dillion has also hailed him as a hero. I’ve never seen a community come together like they have for Adrian. They are running a #WrightStrong Campaign which has included fundraisers, parades, prayer vigils and more.
Even people from other towns are doing things in his honor. A bicycle club from my town reached out to me and they did a ride in Adrian’s honor and raised funds on his behalf. They had never met Adrian, but his story touched their hearts.
Adrian’s wife, Kadra, calls him “Super Man.” Super Man in his darkest hour…still sees God’s Light upon life. Adrian is a gentle man…and he walks with a quiet strength. He radiates love and compassion and he knows the power of God to restore and heal. He and Kadra are now faced with tons of medical expenses and a lot of work ahead. Yet, they are not a lone. An entire community is standing with them, an army of prayer warriors and a loving family who supports him. Superman and his Lois Lane are RISING! My Black History Month Story salutes Mr. Adrian L. Wright. Please share this story of hope, community, unity, resilience and the power of God to restore and heal. This is another Black History Moment.
To learn more about how you can help and show your support for Adrian as he recovers, make your contribution to the Adrian Wright’s Medical Fund through the Wright H.E.A.R.T.S (Help Encourage Adrian’s Recovery Through Sponsorship) Campaign), go to www.wrightstrong.org.
For Media Appearances/Speaking Engagements email: Adrianlamar@gmail.com