Following a hurricane in 2004, Patrick and Holly Wright and their daughters returned home to find a large frog in their entryway. Holly quickly ushered the frog outside and returned to put her three young daughters to bed. Still without power and worried that 2-year-old Payton would not go to sleep without a pacifier, she searched the dark house, to no avail. The pacifier was lost. As Holly tried to devise an explanation suitable to a toddler, Payton suddenly exclaimed, “Mom, I think that frog stole my binky!” Satisfied with the possibility that the mother frog took the binky for her baby frogs, Payton went to bed, content to be without her pacifier.
Many children would have been upset with the frog, but not Payton. She became fascinated with frogs, following them around outside, talking to them, and even asking if they had seen her binky. As Payton was undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments in 2006, Holly gave her a small silver frog to keep in her pocket as a symbol of hope and strength. Because of Payton’s love for them, frogs have become a symbol of her life and her Foundation. In the years since Payton’s passing, her family and friends have been touched by the appearance of frogs in the most unexpected places. Here are a few of those stories:
Payton’s Memorial Service was held at Harvest United Methodist Church in June of 2007. More than 800 people in attendance filed out of the church to find the parking lot and streets covered in frogs. Heavy rain during the service brought them out from the ponds, and they were everywhere. Family and friends didn’t even want to drive home for fear of running over the frogs on the road.
On the first Foundation cruise in January of 2009, the group of about 30 people was walking to dinner through the crowded photo gallery when Holly noticed a piece of paper on the ground. As she bent to get a closer look, she realized that it was one of the daily activity schedules that had been folded origami style into a frog. Although it was on the floor of a busy walkway, it had not been stepped on or damaged in any way. The origami frog took its place in the group photos for the rest of the cruise and is now on display in the Wright’s home.
In July, 2010, the second annual PWF cruise sailed to Alaska. While docked in Skagway, the group ventured into the Yukon and visited the small town of Carcross (population 431). While admiring jewelry, handmade by local women from the Tlingit tribe, someone noticed that one woman’s car was filled with frog imagery—frog seat covers, frog steering wheel, even frogs hanging from the rearview mirror. The owner, Beatrice, explained that she is a member of the Frog Clan, one of six clans of the Yukon First Nations. Frogs are the only amphibian or reptile that lives in the Yukon, and each winter they bury themselves in mud before the ponds freeze over in order to survive the winter.
Traditionally, when the native people saw the frogs reemerging in the spring, they viewed it as a return from the dead. Thus, frogs represent rebirth, survival, and longevity. Holly Wright presented Beatrice with a silver frog, and Beatrice gave Holly and Patrick a frog from her mirror.