Fundraiser for Danielle Wright set for Saturday
LAFAYETTE — Ricky and Robin Wright are enlisting the help and labor of others so planes half a world away can continue searching for their daughter Danielle, one of seven people aboard the schooner Niña in the South Pacific who haven’t been heard from in three months.
To fund the search planes and crews, the Wrights said, they are plowing through savings and asking others to donate their time and talents.
“We got enough (money) in the bank to pay for another week” of aerial searches, Ricky Wright said.
Danielle Wright, a Lafayette resident who grew up in Baton Rouge, is a 19-year-old experienced sailor who boarded the Niña in late May with six others for a sailing trip from New Zealand to Australia. They’ve not been heard from since transmissions in early June during two storms.
Since then, a nonprofit group, Texas EquuSearch, has been enlisted to help coordinate searches. Wright said the people at Texas EquuSearch volunteer their time, but search planes and crews in New Zealand are expensive.
Wright said the family members of the other six sailors are also involved in the search, which has been slow-going. He said the U.S. military has not offered help through search equipment and crew or with its satellite imaging technology.
So the effort has plodded along in a stop and start fashion and, as the money comes in, the search planes take off.
Wright said he and his wife believe Danielle, a University of Louisiana at Lafayette student, is alive in the Tasmin Sea, which lies between New Zealand and Australia.
“We’re standing strong,” Wright said. “We’re keeping busy, which helps, because you don’t want to sit around doing nothing. You start thinking about too many alternatives.
“But Danielle is there afloat,” he said. “The odds of her afloat are 80 percent. That’s what we’re banking on.”
On Friday in Baton Rouge, Acoustical Specialties & Supply Inc. will sell jambalaya lunches from 11 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. at 12434 South Choctaw Drive to support the search efforts.
On Saturday in Lafayette, Texas EquuSearch and local businesses are sponsoring a day-long concert featuring local talent. The show will be held at Blackham Coliseum starting at 10 a.m. and running until 8 p.m. Bands include Geno Delafose & French Rockin’ Boogie; Travis Matte and the Kingpins, Mackenzie Bourg, and Jamie Bergeron & Kickin’ Cajuns.
Doors open at 9:30 and the entry fee is $10 for adults and $5 for those under 21.
On Sunday, there will be a brown bag fundraiser at Johnson’s Boucaniere at 1111 St. John Street near St. John’s Cathedral. Lunch will be served from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. and will cost $10.