At just six months old, Casey Wright of Mission, B.C. was diagnosed with a brain tumour.
The tumour and treatments left him blind in one eye, of short stature and suffering from numerous endocrine challenges; an unexpected stroke then paralysed the right side of his body.
At 21, standing at four-feet tall, his perseverance and philanthropy to other children facing adversity have been recognized with a 2022 Courage To Come Back Award in the youth category.
“It’s quite an honor for me and my family,” Wright said.
The annual awards are given to B.C. residents who have overcome anything from illness to addiction, and give back to their community in a significant way.
Wright has been a long-time spokesperson for the Michael Cuccione Foundation, a mentor for at-risk youth at the East End Boys Club, and helps fundraise for the BC Children’s Hospital, where he has been a patient for the most of his life.
At 12-years old, he became the first and only Canadian to be awarded the honourary rank of Staff Sergeant Major in the RCMP.
“Casey challenges us to do better, to be more empathetic, to access the charity in our hearts and ultimately, to embrace those and their families, who are suffering challenges, heartbreak and grief,” said James Crescenzo, founder and director East End Boys and Girls Club of Vancouver.
As part of his philanthropic work, Wright often sees young children with cancer or other illnesses.
He said it can be heartbreaking to see the effects on parents, siblings and friends – but loving support is what helped him through the painful days.
Wright’s advice: “Just take every day by the hand, and live life to the fullest because you never know what might happen the next day.”
His stroke forced him to go through months of “grueling rehabilitation” to re-learn how to speak and swallow. He missed years of school, finally graduating in 2019.
Now he’s pursuing a career in film and television. Wright has had roles in War for the Planet of the Apes, The Man in the High Castle, and recently played himself in an autobiographical stage-play called Casey and the Octopus.
He said his brain-trauma injuries make lines hard to memorize, but he enjoys the challenge. The show was sold-out for a week and closed to standing ovations.
Wright spends his time at the Virtue Studio Ranch in Mission, and credits the Danny Virtue Foundation for helping him. Danny Virtue worked in the film industry for 40 years and his foundation helps young children who face adversities.
Medical technology has come a long way in the last 20 years, but there is still a need for improvement, Wright said.
He’s been speaking in front of others about his experiences since he was five-years-old.
“I’m here to tell you that if I can get through what I’ve been through, you can too,” Wright said.