LAKE WALES, Fla. (WFLA) – As a Polk County couple processes the sudden loss of their 10-year-old daughter, community support continues to pour in. Hundreds have shared condolences and donations on a GoFundMe page created Monday.
Irys Wright passed away over the holiday weekend. The little girl from Lake Wales was swept into a rip current on Siesta Beach and drowned. She was playing in the water with several other children. Wright was on a day trip from Polk County with family friends.
Several family friends and strangers tried rescuing the 10-year-old.
“It happened so fast and the currents, I wasn’t aware of them until until I was out there,” said family friend Breia Jasper.
Irys’s parents tell 8 On Your Side the 10-year-old wasn’t a strong swimmer. They want to express their gratitude for everyone who tried to save their daughter.
“They tried and they did everything that they could to save her and unfortunately it was just her time,” said mother Parys Miller.
Miller is thankful she and her fiance have the opportunity to say goodbye.
“We can put her to rest and may not have been possible without those people because her body could have very well been lost at sea,” said Miller.
Miller and Frederick Brinson are remembering the 10-year-old by her bright smile, big heart and endless energy. Irys was the oldest of four children.
“She was a great big sister,” said her mother.
Irys was also known for her talents. The young girl loved to sing and dance. She was excelling in school at Spook Hill Elementary School.
“She could do everything, anything she put her mind to,” said Miller.
The fourth grade student also made special connections with people around her. Her teacher, Amy Rietschel, tells 8 On Your Side she and Irys had a bond she can’t explain.
“In all my years of teaching, I haven’t had something as powerful as that connection and I used to say to people or her mother was she is special,” said Rietschel.
Rietschel recently moved from Polk County to New York. She planned on keeping Irys in her life for a long time. The teacher said she got a call from Irys’s mother early Monday morning.
“Her mom had to tell me what had happened and it literally broke my heart for her family, for Irys, for everybody involved,” said Rietschel.
Rietschel created the GoFundMe page to help the family with money for a proper burial.
“It was the least I could do to make sure that baby is taken care of,” said Rietschel.
The family is hosting a memorial in the 10-year-old’s honor this Friday at Spook Hill, a place they say highlights Irys’s character.
“It’s really really hard to get up that hill,” said Irys’s father. “That is why I want to put emphasis on how hard of a worker she was. She ran up the hill without stopping. To me, that’s powerful,” said Brinson.
The family is calling the gathering “Run for Irys.”
At 6 p.m., attendees will walk or run up the hill in the 10-year-old’s honor. The family tells 8 On Your Side anyone interested is welcome to join.