They may have played for a one-win football team as seniors at Dwight (Ill.) Township High, but student-athletes Luke Arnold and Ryan Kodat left a lasting impression on the school.
Three years after Arnold and Kodat — both running backs and linebackers for the Trojans in 2013 — treated a homeless man with the sort of kindness any high school coach would want from his players, the man repaid the high school they represented so well — 10,000-fold.
According to the Bloomington Pantagraph, the man — Wade Herter — sent a handwritten letter and $10,000 to Dwight Township principal Dan Kaiser, praising Arnold and Kodat for providing him with clothes, lunch and an Amtrak ticket as he attempted to walk most of the 200 miles from Chicago to Springfield, Ill., where his ailing father lived in a nursing home.
He remembered the day precisely, since it was snowing — and his birthday: March 5, 2013.
“We put ourselves in his shoes,” Kodat, now an Iowa State University agricultural business student, told the Pantagraph. “He was very determined to get down there and we felt we were doing the right thing by helping him.”
Medical bills for his father had left Herter homeless at the time, according to the Pantagraph, but he shockingly inherited $1.2 million when his dad died 16 months later. Now a writer and standup comedian living in Los Angeles, Herter paid it forward recently.
As a result, the school launched the Warren Herter Memorial “Pay it Forward” Award, which will provide a $500 scholarship for the next 10 years to two students who write an essay — reviewed by Arnold, Kodat and others — about a random act of kindness.
As for anyone who might think a couple of ex-jocks would prefer to pocket that $10,000, consider this quote from Kodat to the Pantagraph: “Everybody is thanking me and Luke, but that’s not what it’s all about. I want to thank Wade for giving back to our community.”
Ladies and gentleman, this is the epitome of what it means to be a student-athlete.