North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

Features

June 27, 2012

Mt. Olive citizen becomes character in novel

NORTH JEFFERSON — A beloved Mt. Olive resident is now a character in a novel.

Through the Forever In Fiction program, Brad Wright is a minor character in “Loving,” Karen Kingsbury’s latest Christian fiction book.

Wright, 23, was a popular and well-known basketball player at Gardendale High School before a car accident almost six years ago left him in a comatose state.

Wright is still comatose, but lives at home with his parents Jeff and Debbie Harmon.

Several months ago, Debbie Harmon bid on the right to have her son featured in Forever In Fiction at a Just Keep Smiling auction.

She was hesitant to try. The minimum bid was $2,000; a lot of money for most families, including Wright’s family.

“Something just kept tugging on me to bid on it for Brad,” Harmon said.

She arrived at the auction with a blank check, still unsure whether to bid. But it was an easy choice when she realized no one was there to bid against her.

When people heard whose name was going to win the honor, they began handing money to Harmon to help pay for Wright to be a character in the book.

“There were a lot of tears,” Harmon said. “Out of the $2,000 Just Keep Smiling got, I probably only spent $800 or $900.”

Harmon began reading Karen Kingsbury books after some of Wright’s caregivers loaned her one. She got hooked, and has now read everything the author has written.

She in turned loaned one of the books to Jeanne Busby, who is affiliated with Just Keep Smiling. The Forever In Fiction program is explained in each of the books; that is how the Gardendale-based Just Keep Smiling learned about it.

Through the program, Kingsbury auctions the right to have a person presented as a character in one of her books. The chosen organization keeps the proceeds.

Wright’s experience with Just Keep Smiling goes back to the time of his accident.

“Just Keep Smiling were the first ones to help,” Harmon said. “It was great, especially at the beginning when everything was in chaos.” The purpose of the organization is to help families with critically ill children.

Harmon said she is grateful to Just Keep Smiling as well as to Kingsbury for the Forever In Fiction program.

She recently received two autographed copies of “Loving” in the mail.

The book describes Wright’s actual story in beginning, in a section about Forever In Fiction. The character named Brad Wright is farther back in the book and represents Wright as he was before the accident — a generous, outgoing basketball player and an AB student.

“When we’re all dead and gone, he’ll still be alive in fiction,” Harmon said.

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