KINGSPORT — A local wrestling legend and his family suffered a major tragedy last week when a lightning strike sent a power surge throughout their house, causing a fire and the total destruction of their home.
The fire happened on Independence Day at the Bristol, Tenn., home of Don Wright, his wife, Sandy, and their five grandchildren (ages 4 to 14). The family had been at Roan Mountain that day to camp and learned about their home burning down when friends called to check on them, said Beau James, a local wrestler and promoter who has known the family for decades.
“They didn’t even know it happened,” James said. “Lightning hit the transformer in front of the house and sent a power surge in and blew the outlets. It’s not like the fire started in one place and spread. It started everywhere and spread.
“There’s nothing left. Just some blocks and some smoldering wood in the bottom of a pit.”
Wright, along with his brother and tag team partner Ron, were two of the most well-known wrestlers in the Tri-Cities from the 1960s through the 1980s. Ron passed away in April 2015.
A TOTAL LOSS
In addition to losing their house, the Wrights lost a vehicle, a camper, all of their pets and, of course, all of their possessions. They had only the clothes on their backs and a change of clothes for the next day.
James said Don also lost about $18,000 in antiques and collectibles, which had just been appraised, but unfortunately all the paperwork was in the house. Currently the family is staying in a hotel.
“They are having to start their lives over from scratch,” James wrote on social media after learning of the fire. “Thank God they were not home when the fire occurred.”
James’ wrestling promotion — Southern States Wrestling — will be holding a special auction and wrestling event for the Wrights on Aug. 10 at the Model City Event Center in downtown Kingsport.
However, depending on which special guests sign on to appear, the venue might have to move to a larger location.
So far, more than $11,000 has been raised for the Wrights, with two large donations ($5,000 each) coming from Jon Moxley and Tony Khan of All Elite Wrestling.
“It sounds like a big amount of money, but when you don’t own a comb or a toothbrush or anywhere to lay down, that’s not a lot of money, especially since there’s seven of them and five of them start school in four weeks,” James said.
If you want to make a donation of clothes and school supplies for the five grandkids, you can drop your items off at Trinity Memorial Funeral Home (1221 Stewball Circle in Kingsport) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Here are the ages and sizes of the grandchildren.
— Alayna (age 14) is a size 3/4 in pants and a small in shirt.
— Zane (age 12) is a size 14 in pants and shirt.
— Edward (age 9) is a size 7/8 in pants and an 8 in shirt.
— Nathaniel (age 7 ) is a size 6/7 in pants and shirt.
— Gwendolyn (age 4) is a size 5 in pants and shirt.
If you would like to make a monetary donation, go to www.gofundme.com and search for “Sandy Wright Housefire Fund.”