About five months ago, I wrote a story about Victor Wright, a former Muir frosh/soph football player who in 1976 suffered a devastating injury that paralyzed him from the neck down. Former coaches interviewed for the story said that if not for the injury, Wright could have been a star on the varsity football team. Wright never went on to play football again, thus never receiving a varsity letter, no less a letterman jacket. Wright was honored with an honorary varsity letter during a Muir home football game last season, but he didn’t have a letterman jacket. Wright said he might keep his varsity letter in a closet with the rest of his junior high letters because he didn’t have a letterman jacket. “When I was playing I had intended to get a jacket,” Wright said at the time. Muir football coach Ken Howard was on a mission. “I’m sure we can do some fundraising and get a jacket for the young man,” said Howard. “He deserves it.” Readers poured in with their support, and I’m happy to report that Victor Wright last weekend received his letterman jacket. David Rutherford, membership chairperson for the John Muir High School Alumni Association, e-mailed photos and a press release.
VICTOR WRIGHT RECEIVES LETTERMAN JACKET
Hall-of-Fame alumnus Victor Wright today was presented with a custom letterman jacket, paid for by his Muir High classmates and Pasadena Star-News readers who responded to an article indicating he had no such jacket to adorn his recently acquired honorary varsity football letter. Wright, who suffered a spinal injury as a sophomore during a game in 1976, has been paralyzed from the neck down for more than 33 years. He was
presented with an honorary varsity letter at a Nov. 16, 2009 halftime ceremony at Muir’s Walton Field during a game against Arcadia High, which the 0-5 Mustangs won, 27-7.
The Star-News ran an article the next day, which revealed Wright had earned two other football letters at Muir and was a five-sport letterman at Eliot Middle School (football, baseball, track, gymnastics and volleyball). However, Wright admitted he had no jacket for the letters, which were in a bedroom dresser drawer.
An outpouring of support followed, as a half dozen readers sent in checks to the newspaper made out to Wright, totaling $205. Victor’s classmates, who held their 30-year reunion last November – which he attended – picked up the remaining cost of customizing the $373 jacket with a portion of the proceeds from their weekend activities.
Also discovered in Wright’s drawer was another honorary varsity letter given to Wright in 1977 at a varsity football team awards banquet, attended by the late former University of Michigan Head Coach Bo Schembechler The Wolverines were in town for the 1978 Rose Bowl game. Schembechler heard about Wright’s story and came to the banquet at Brookside Golf Club to present him with a helmet and football, which still hang on his bedroom wall.
Wright, who turns 49 next month, graduated on schedule with his class
in 1979. Ten years later, he became one of the first quadriplegics to earn a college degree, through a program for students with disabilities at Los Angeles City College. He went on to co-found the non-profit organization Family of Friends International (www.familyoffriendsinternational.org), which provides relief to victims of natural disasters. For these efforts, Wright was elected to the John Muir High School Alumni Hall of Fame in 2007.