Western Albemarle High School girls basketball coach Kris Wright has a pretty strong motivator to get involved with the Charlottesville March for Babies.
"We say all the time that our son is a miracle," Wright says. "He was born at two pounds and seven ounces, along with his sister. His sister unfortunately passed away. And that adds extra motivation for us. That when families go through similar situations to ours, that this somehow will help them down the road."
Wright's wife Heather gave birth to twins Colin and Nora in late February 2012, about three months before their due dates. Three weeks later, Nora passed away from an internal infection.
Today, Colin is a healthy, 16-pound boy who recently turned 14 months old. And this weekend, the Wright family will represent the Charlottesville chapter of the March of Dimes as the ambassador family for the organization's March for Babies.
"Anything the March of Dimes can do research-wise or funding-wise to help families that went through or will go through situations similar to ours is something that we're proud to help out with," Wright says.
The Wrights will have plenty of company during Sunday's walk. Members of the Western Albemarle basketball team organized for last year's March in support of the Wright family, raising more than $3,000 in the process -- the most of any new team.
This year, the Warriors will participate again. And on Friday, their fundraising efforts for 2013 reached the $8,000 mark.
"I know for me and all the girls, Kris definitely has been a father figure toward all of us," senior Kathryn Crickenberger says. "So his kids were just like our brothers and sisters. We're definitely a family, so we wanted to help them and do that for them."
"My wife Heather and I always say that there's more to this than basketball. We're trying to teach bigger things. We're trying to treat them like family, not just like kids I happen to coach," says Wright.
"For them to reciprocate that, and really treat us like family, and come together and do this fundraiser two years in a row, and to reach out to something that really means a lot to them and to us -- because of the relationships we've built here at the school -- is really gratifying and really an amazing feeling for me as a coach."
The Warriors have also invited other local basketball teams to join them during Sunday's walk. Wright says players from William Monroe will be on hand, while players from Monticello and Charlottesville were also hoping to participate.
"I know during basketball season we're all just kind of rivals and stuff. But off the court, we actually are friends," says Crickenberger. "We all know each other. And so it's awesome that they can also help us, and walk with us and donate. So it'll be a fun experience."
"Oh, it's awesome," Wright says. "From a basketball standpoint -- and I think particularly girls basketball in this area -- we all get along. Most of the coaches have been in this for a long time. We all know each other. We're all trying to teach our kids similar values. So for us to come together on a project, it's exciting for us and for the community."
Their team name is "Do The Wright Thing." Anyone interested can visit the team's web site for more details on Sunday's March for Babies, or to make an online donation.
Sunday's March for Babies begins at 2 p.m. on Charlottesville's Downtown Mall, with registration beginning at 1 p.m. at the Lexis Nexis Building.