Several years ago, two seniors named Luke Arnold and Ryan Kodat from Dwight Township High School in Illinois witnessed a homeless man walking in a blizzard with no jacket. The man, Wade Herter, was attempting to go see his ailing father, Warren.
Expecting nothing in return, the pair decided to give Herter some warm clothing and money for a train ticket to Springfield. They then parted ways with nothing more than a ‘good luck’ farewell.
Warren unfortunately passed away a short time later. But in doing so, he left behind an estate worth $1.2 million…which then fell into the lap of his son, Wade Herter.
Though he was instantly no longer subjected to living on the streets, Herter never forgot that day in the blizzard when the two seniors helped him. So he sent a letter to their high school along with something else: a $10,000 donation, in memory of Herter’s father.
But the story doesn’t end there. School Superintendent, Dr. Richard Jancek, believes that media outlets tend to put a special focus on negative stories involving teens. And as a result, it is easy for others to lose hope in the future generations.
So he came up with a plan to continue the pay it forward campaign that these high school seniors had started.
For the next 10 years, graduating students can apply for a $500 award. All they have to do is commit one act of kindness, and tell the school about it.
According to the Morris Herald News, Jancek said the students will be asked to “describe a time when they went above and beyond to help a friend, family member or stranger, and expected nothing in return.” It is not offered as a scholarship, so regardless of what students decide to do after high school, the money is meant to help with their expenses.
And the award has appropriately been named the Warren Herter Pay It Forward Award.
Ryan Kodat, one of the original students who helped Herter all those years ago, was given an opportunity to help review and judge the award applications. But Kodat says he doesn’t want to be recognized for his good deed. He just believes in always doing the right thing.
As for the former homeless man Wade Herter, he is now a comedian and writer living in California, and also works on film crews. But one thing is for sure: he certainly has some interesting stories to tell.
Stories that more than just a few people are looking forward to reading about one day.