1771 NC

Geri Wright

A story about funding first steps for the second time, and about getting people on the right path for healthy living. Not everyone gets a second chance. Geri earned hers.

There are many words to describe Geri Wright. She’s a daughter, a mother and a grandmother. She’s a pastor, a Christian and a caregiver. She’s an advocate, a volunteer and a really good cook. And 10 years ago, Geri became a stroke survivor.

It was Saturday, March 19, 2005. Geri and her daughter had just returned home from a first aid and CPR class. Geri took a phone call from her mother. It was a very emotional conversation, she said. “I told her, ‘Mom, I need to hang up.’” She ended the conversation, but her mother called back, this time to talk to Geri’s daughter. “She told her ‘watch your mom,’” Geri recalled.

Geri didn’t feel well, so she went to rest on the couch. “That was my daughter’s first clue that something was not quite right,” Geri said. “I never lie down.” She got up to go the bathroom. Her daughter followed and got there just in time to see her mom collapse.

Geri suffered a hemorrhagic stroke. A CT scan showed she was bleeding on the right side of her brain. Her medical team at Vidant Medical Center gave the family two scenarios. If the bleeding stopped and she made it through the night, she would be paralyzed. If the bleeding didn’t stop, she would die. Family and friends watched as the hours ticked by. Eventually, the bleeding stopped.

Once Geri was stable, her medical team started to prepare the family for their new normal. Geri’s left side was completely paralyzed. She would be dependent on a wheelchair. No one accepted the diagnosis. “My brother is a pastor,” Geri said. “He stood right there in that room and said ‘I do not accept that. She will walk again.’”

When she was well enough, Geri was moved to rehab. She told her team of therapists the same thing – she would walk again. She spent 18 days in inpatient rehab and continued with outpatient rehab after she was discharged.

And on May 15, 2005, less than two months after her stroke, Geri walked – yes, walked – across the stage at Wilson Technical Community College to receive her associate’s degree in child development. She’s been on the move ever since.

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Geri continued her education at East Carolina University. She received a bachelor’s degree in family and community services with a concentration in family studies. She’s trained in case management, smoking cessation, exercise and special diet classes and food literacy. She works extensively as a health advisor with programs that provide free health screenings to nearly 40 churches in Greenville and Pitt County.

Geri volunteers at Vidant Medical Center as a patient family advisor, where she focuses on improving the quality, safety and experience for all who enter the hospital doors. She also volunteers with the American Stroke Association and the American Heart Association.

Geri is a passionate advocate for living a healthy lifestyle. She loves being in the kitchen creating new, healthy dishes. She even puts black beans in her brownies! Geri started the RED (Read, Exercise, Diet) Apron Wellness Program at her church, Vines Chapel Church in Farmville, to teach the youth the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle. In her spare time, she’s writing a book about her journey.

With the help of generous donations to the Vidant Health Foundation, patients of all ages are gaining the confidence and skills they need to return to their families, jobs or school. See what your money can do.

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