Lily Wright’s indomitable spirit has propelled her through challenges that would daunt many.
Born in China, with VACTERL association syndrome, she’s endured several surgeries as the result of the disorder that affects many body systems.
She briefly lived with her biological mother, then a shopkeeper, then in an orphanage until she was placed with a foster family. She stayed with that family for four years, before being adopted by the Wright family at age 5½.
Her dad served in the military, so she lived in several states before he retired to Spokane, where she began attending Northwest Christian School in the 8th grade.
“I’ve been in and out of hospitals a lot,” Wright said. “I had surgeries in China that didn’t go well and had to have revision surgeries here.”
Her most recent surgery was in November 2021 at Seattle Children’s Hospital.
“I got home in time for a little bit of Thanksgiving,” she said.
Despite the disruptions in her school life, Wright maintained excellent grades.
“She refuses to limit herself,” said Carey House, college and career coordinator. “Even with her challenging beginning, Lily will graduate as a salutatorian and earned the NWC Spokane Scholar Nomination in World Languages.”
While on a mission trip to Costa Rica, Wright fell in love with Spanish.
“It’s my passion to be fluent,” she said.
Then she laughed.
“I’ve always been on the nerdy side and involved in the sciences. I challenge myself by taking AP classes. My teachers have played a huge role in pushing me academically.”
But she’s pushed herself to tackle challenges outside academics, as well.
“Lily has a pronounced physical limp but still runs track,” House said. “She’s small in stature but has a big internal drive. Crossing the finish line matters to her.”
Wright credits her family for encouraging her to believe that nothing is impossible for her.
‘My parents have been amazing,” Wright said. “They never let anything be an excuse for me not to do something I wanted.”
However, she doesn’t diminish the struggles she’d endured
“This has shaped how I developed,” she said. “There are a lot of hard days, but I still find joy in life. God is my rock and the source of my strength.”
Her determination and positive attitude have inspired the students and faculty at Northwest Christian.
“She refuses to see herself as living with a disability; instead she says her disability has given her abilities that many others don’t have,” said House.
For example, living with a rare genetic disorder has given her compassion for others who may be hurting in ways that aren’t as visible.
“I’m empathetic. You never know what someone is going through behind their smile,” Wright said.
That compassion will serve her well in her chosen field of study. Wright has been accepted into the nursing program at Gonzaga University. She plans to become a pediatric nurse.
“I’ve had amazing nurses that I want to be like,” she said. “And I can relate to the patients I will see. This will be giving back to the community that helped me.”
House knows this student will succeed in her post-high school life.
“She is a shining example of overcoming,” House said. “She’s an inspiration.”
As for Wright, she’s excited about university life and what the future holds.
“I’m ready to see what God has in store for me,” she said. “My faith gives me courage and strength to persevere.”