- Associated Press - Saturday, March 26, 2016

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) - In the imagination of Noah Worthington, there is a hut on a beach, and a day of adventure awaits.

The 11-year-old boy from Riley shared that story when he wrote “The Hut” for a school assignment. At the time, Noah told his parents that he wanted to be a published author. He wrote other stories as well.

That was in 2011. About two weeks later, Noah died in a car accident that also claimed the life of one of his friends.

But Noah’s dream of being an author did not die with him. His family treasured “The Hut” and hoped to one day publish the story. And now, almost five years later, Noah’s book is for sale on Amazon.com.

A portion of the proceeds are supporting organ donation. Noah’s parents, Wil and Rhena Worthington, made the difficult decision to save other lives by donating Noah’s organs at the time of his death. They feel that both decisions - to publish and to donate - keep Noah alive in a different and special way.

“Anyone who knew Noah knew he was just a very giving kid,” Wil Worthington said recently while showing copies of the newly published children’s book. “And, to be able to make his dream of being a published author come true, and then to in turn give back again to organ donation - it’s a hard decision to be an organ donor. There are people every day trying to make that decision. If we can use this book to influence people to decide that organ donation does matter, the need in Indiana alone is just incredible.”

The colorful 32-page book is beautifully illustrated by local artist Becky Gropp Hochhalter, who spent about a year working with the Worthingtons on the project. The story is about a boy who looks at a picture hanging on the living room wall. Suddenly, the boy finds himself transported into the picture, and he has an adventure in which he builds a hut and has to find food. At the end of the story, he finds himself back at home after having a wonderful adventure.

The illustrations by Hochhalter chronicle that day, and a cute sidekick that she incorporated throughout the story is a small crab that makes an appearance in almost every drawing.

“One of the coolest things she did,” Worthington said of Hochhalter, “was choose to make the boy in the book look like Noah. His mother Rhena and I, neither one of us even thought about that. I don’t know why.”

Hochhalter said she was surprised by that revelation.

“I just thought he had to look like Noah,” she said.

Incidentally, that artistic choice made the project harder for her, because she did not have photos of Noah in a variety of angles, so she had to imagine what he would look like in certain poses.

Worthington said his favorite illustration is one in which the boy, Noah, is sitting in silhouette on a fallen tree, looking across the beach toward the hut.

“This one I actually can sit and look at and envision Noah doing this. I can see it so clearly that it feels so real to me,” Worthington said. “I can almost see him sitting there and reaching down and stroking the crab.”

Hochhalter said she has wanted to illustrate a book for a long time, and she has enjoyed working with the Worthingtons on this project.

“I told them I felt like I had Noah’s help throughout this because some of these I really didn’t know what the illustration was going to look like ahead of time, which is really unusual for me,” she said, alluding to divine inspiration and the spirit of Noah. “They just kind of flowed, and it came together, so I felt like I had some help along the way.”

Worthington said that 1,000 copies of “The Hut” were printed. A quantity was sent to Amazon.com for sale online.

After just a week of online sales, the book has been purchased in 23 states and three countries - Germany, Australia and Ethiopia.

It has also been sold locally through the Worthingtons, and they have it available on their website at DubsPublishing.com for people who do not want to go through Amazon.

An important feature of the book is the information about organ donation and the story of Noah’s life included at the back of the book.

“If we can use that (Noah’s story) to make people aware of organ donation, it makes this even more beautiful,” Worthington said. “It makes the whole project more beautiful.”

Since his death, Noah’s family have been supporters of the Indiana Organ Procurement Organization, volunteering and speaking about turning tragedy into life for others.

Noah was the featured donor representing the Indiana Organ Procurement Organization on the Donate Life float in the 2014 Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, Calif. Noah’s image was featured on a memorial floragraph portrait displayed on the float.

The Worthingtons have met the recipient who of Noah’s heart, and they have developed a bond with that family. In fact, a special event is planned in May in Alabama to promote organ donation using “The Hut” and Noah’s story.

Locally, a special “reveal” of the book is planned for April 14 at Riley Elementary School. A family night is planned to start at 6 p.m., with activities for youth, and copies of the book will be available. Artist Hochhalter will be on hand to sign books and talk about the project, and the Worthington family will share information about Noah and organ donation.

Anyone wanting to purchase the book can go online to either Amazon.com or to DubsPublishing.com and search for The Hut by Noah Worthington.

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Source: (Terre Haute) Tribune-Star, http://bit.ly/21FXXOz

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Information from: Tribune-Star, http://www.tribstar.com

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