LAKEWOOD RANCH — To anyone else it merely would’ve been a folded up piece of paper, but to Patrick and Holly Wright, it was something much more.
It was a sign that their daughter, Payton, was right there with them. And as Holly knelt down to pick up the small folded up origami frog, lying on the floor in the middle of a crowded cruise ship this past January, she couldn’t help but glance up and smile.
“It gave me chills when I saw it,” Holly said. “I said, ‘There’s a frog. There she is.’”
Today, the origami frog sits on the mantle in the couple’s Lakewood Ranch home, alongside a framed photograph of their youngest daughter. It’s just one of dozens of frogs the Wrights now have sprinkled throughout their home.
It’s been nearly two years since Payton, having just celebrated her fifth birthday, lost her battle with Medulloepithelioma, a rare form of brain cancer.
“It not any easier now,” Patrick said. “She’s still (gone), and it’s hard on a day-to-day basis, but Holly and I are committed to raising awareness and making a difference.”
Shortly after Payton’s passing, the Wrights formed the Payton Wright Foundation, a nonprofit organization designed to support pediatric brain cancer research and to assist those families who have a child with brain cancer. On May 22, the organization will host Payton’s 2009 Golf Tournament at Legacy Golf Club, 8255 Legacy Blvd. in Lakewood Ranch. Registration fees for the third annual golf outing, which begins with a shotgun start at 1:30 p.m., are $150 per player or $600 per foursome with the event capping off at 144 players.
Prior to the start of the tournament, the Wrights will speak about their daughter and the importance of pediatric brain cancer research. A pediatric neurooncologist from All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg is slated to speak. In addition, there is a good chance the Golf Channel could be out filming the event.
“We want to make sure people are aware of why they’re there,” Patrick said. “Obviously, we’re going to talk a lot about Payton, but we also want people to know that the No. 1 leading cause of death in kids 5 and under is brain cancer.”
At the conclusion of the outing, participants will enjoy dinner catered by Bonefish Grill and a silent auction. Some of the items that will be available during the auction include: two tickets to a Duke basketball game, two Tampa Bay Rays box seat tickets accompanied by Dick Vitale, a three-hour tour of ESPN studios in Bristol, CT and lunch with Stump the Schwab Producer, Howie Schwab, among other items.
All proceeds will benefit pediatric brain cancer research at All Children’s Hospital, Duke University Hospital, The V Foundation and families whose children are in the hospital battling the disease.
“We are really big on awareness,” Patrick said. “Besides just raising funds, Holly and I want to bring more awareness to pediatric brain cancer. We are very passionate about it because of what Payton went through and we want to keep her spirit alive.
“The community has given so much to us, and now we just want to pay it forward and give back,” he added.
Payton 2009 Golf Tournament
WHEN: 1:30 p.m., May 22. Registration begins at 11:30 a.m. with dinner and a silent auction to follow
WHERE: Legacy Golf Club. 8255 Legacy Blvd., Lakewood Ranch
REGISTRATION: $150 per player or $600 per foursome
CONTACT: Tony Noweski, 224-7129 or [email protected]; or David Freed, 224-5803 or [email protected]
Those wishing to make a donation to the Payton Wright Foundation can do so by making checks payable to:
The Payton Wright Foundation
P.O. BOX 110067
Bradenton, FL 34211-0067