It can be an overwhelming moment of pride for a parent to watch their child cross the stage to receive their high school diploma. For the parents of Ohio senior Lexi Wright, it was doubly so: for the first time they watched their daughter, who has cerebral palsy, leave her wheelchair to walk.
"It was a total surprise," said Dede Tyner-Wright, Lexi's mother. "She wanted to surprise her family and make us proud of her. She had that determination in her."
A lifetime of physical therapy culminated in the past year of intensive training and preparation with a walker, enabling Lexi to leave her wheelchair. As the stepped forward in her cap and gown, she marked the latest chapter of her life to the roar of applause and a standing ovation.
Wright described her 19-year-old daughter as having always been a determined child, from the day she was born. Doctors told her to not expect the newborn to survive long, but Lexi proved them wrong. Then Wright was advised the child would never walk.
Now, literally standing in defiance of her condition, the teen's secret progress on her feet with a walker is more than they imagined they could hope for 19 years ago— though it certainly hasn't been easy.
Wright left her job to give her daughter the full-time attention needed for constant appointments with specialists.
"There's so many parents out there that if their child has a disability they wanna give it away," Wright said. "I never gave up— never have, never will."
Lexi's next steps are, for now, uncertain.
"Everyone's trying to talk her into going to college," her mother said. "Maybe now that she's done that she can believe more in herself to make it through college— and of course, she's like her momma, loves to travel, so that might be in the agenda too."