Wheelchair Curling·Profile

'Superwoman' Marie Wright: Single mother of 4, paraplegic, Paralympian

Canadian Paralympic curler Marie Wright can't stop smiling and everyone around her notices — it's just who she's always been. You'd never know by the way she carries herself what Wright has been through.

Curling lead remains positive no matter the circumstance

Marie Wright flashes her signature "heart" sign during the recent Paralympic Games in South Korea. (CBC Sports)

Marie Wright can't stop smiling and everyone around her notices — it's just who she's always been. Positive, upbeat and excited about what's to come in life. 

At 57 years old, Wright is living out a lifelong dream as the lead for Canada's wheelchair curling team at the Paralympic Games in South Korea.

On the ice she smiles at her teammates. She smiles at her opponents. But she saves her biggest smiles for her two oldest daughters — Kyla and Tara — sitting in the crowd at the Gangneung Curling Venue.

"To see them here watching me inspires me to play better," Wright said. "All four of my daughters have meant the world to me. They're my life."

You'd never know by the way she carries herself what Wright has been through. 

On August 20, 1988, on a prairie dirt road in rural Saskatchewan, Wright was in a vehicle accident that left her a paraplegic.

"I was following a grain truck and there were no lights on the back of it. It stopped out of nowhere. No signal lights, brake lights or tail lights," she said. 

"It was either hit the ditch or hit the back of the truck. I thought I could probably go in the ditch a little sideways but the loose gravel just grabbed it and flipped it end over end."

She wasn't the only one in the vehicle. Her two youngest daughters, Jolene and Rachelle, along with her niece and nephew were with her.

"My youngest daughter [Rachelle] was one at the time and suffered a serious head injury. She's living in a home in a chair now. Everyone loves her."

For 10 months following the accident Wright recovered in the hospital, all while staying by the side of her one-year-old who was also recovering. 

"It was a long recovery and she had to be in the hospital longer than me so I stayed with her every day."

Resilience and positivity

That was only the beginning. Two years after the horrific accident, Wright's husband left her. She was still recovering, adjusting to life in a wheelchair as a paraplegic and now a single mother of four.

"When my husband left sometimes I felt like giving up, but then I had my four kids. Because of my children I will not give up," she said, smiling. 

Kyla and Tara were in Brandon, Man., visiting family at the time of the accident. It was a horrible time for them, but to this day they still marvel at how their mother has been able to overcome it all. 

"She's a Superwoman," Kyla Shewchuk said. "It was tough on her. I was the oldest and I saw her cry. We cried together."

But they would never cry for too long, Kyla says. 

"She's strong. She's resilient. And she is a ton of fun. She should be the face of Canada. She is polite and happy and smiling and hilarious. A superhero really, in every way."

Wright's second-oldest daughter, Tara Gottselig, can't remember a time while they were growing up when her mom would slow down because she was in a wheelchair. She says her mom was busier than anyone else she knew. 

"She was our coach for everything. She just rocked. She was incredible," she said.

Gottselig has three daughters of her own now and fully appreciates what her mom did for them.

"I did not realize the struggles she would have had until I became a mom," Gottselig said. "She never let us see her down. She always put us first. She took us to sports. She was the most supportive person in the world."

Tara says their home in Moose Jaw, Sask., growing up was where everyone wanted to be. 

"My friends always pointed it out. Our house was the house to go to. She was everybody's mom. Lots of my friends called her 'Mom.' She was a mom to the community."

Kyla lives in Saskatoon now but when she goes back to visit her mother in Moose Jaw, it's quite the experience.

"She's practically a celebrity back home," Kyla said. "We can't go anywhere. When we go to Walmart we have to stop 85 times to talk to people. There are elementary students and older people smiling and stopping to talk to her."

'We needed to be here'

Kyla and Tara are in the crowd watching every wheelchair curling game. Rachelle is in Moose Jaw. Jolene is also back in Saskatchewan and is expecting a baby soon. 

The two oldest sisters say they get teary-eyed every time they watch their mom take to the ice for Canada at the Paralympics.

"We are so lucky to be here," Kyla said. "She's done more for us in our lives than we could ever do. This is the smallest thing we can do to show how proud we are of her."

Tara is going through all of the emotions during each and every shot and game.

"Pride. Excitement. Fear when they're down. But to look down and see her face and then have her smile at us, we needed to be here for this," she said.

For Wright, this is more than she could have ever imagined. She's grateful for her family and community who helped her get to this point and says she's getting messages every day from people all across Saskatchewan cheering her on. 

Wright hopes that through this Paralympic experience she can remind Canadians anything is possible — and to always keep smiling. 

"Whatever happens to you in life just never give up because there's something out there for you somewhere."


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