High School Students' Good Deed Spurs $10,000 Donation From Former Homeless Man

PHOTO: Luke Arnold, left, and Ryan Kodat, right, pictured as Dwight Township High School seniors in 2013.Dwight Township High School
Luke Arnold, left, and Ryan Kodat, right, pictured as Dwight Township High School seniors in 2013.

A former homeless man has paid forward the good deed of two Illinois residents by donating $10,000 to their former high school.

Dan Kaiser, the principal of Dwight Township High School in Dwight, Illinois, told ABC News he received a handwritten letter last month from a man named Wade Herter that contained a check for $10,000.

The handwritten letter from Herter said that he had been helped in the middle of a blizzard three years ago by two anonymous students from Dwight Township High School and was making the donation in their honor.

PHOTO: Dwight Township High School in Dwight, Illinois, is seen in this undated handout photo.Dwight Township High School
Dwight Township High School in Dwight, Illinois, is seen in this undated handout photo.

“My daughter was a student at the time so I asked her if she knew anybody who would have done that and she said, ‘Yeah, Luke did it,’” Kaiser said, referring to her daughter’s longtime boyfriend.

Luke Arnold and Ryan Kodat were enjoying a snow day off from school in 2013 when they saw Herter out in the cold. A few hours later, they saw Herter again and approached him, learning that he was trying to make his way to Springfield, Illinois, to see his ailing father.

The two friends went back to Kodat’s house to get extra clothes for Herter and brought along Kodat’s father, who bought Herter a train ticket to Springfield, about 90 miles away.

“They got him on the train and that was it,” Kaiser said. “They’d just done something nice for him, not knowing it was a true story or not.”

No one but Kodat and Arnold’s family and close circle of friends knew about the good deed until Herter’s letter and check arrived at the high school last month.

While Kodat and Arnold, now both 21, went on to college and technical school, Herter discovered a surprise in his own life. According to his letter, he came into an inheritance of more than $1 million from his father.

He is now living in California, working as a stand-up comedian and writer, according to his Facebook page.

“He said to do whatever we wanted with the money, but it had to be in memory of his father and in honor of the two boys who helped him,” Kaiser said.

Kaiser and the district’s superintendent, Dr. Richard Jancek, decided to create two $500 scholarships for Dwight seniors to be awarded each year for the next 10 years. The award recipients will be selected after submitting an essay on a random act of kindness they’ve done.

Kaiser said the school plans to include Arnold and Kodat, who could not be reached by ABC News, in the selection process.

According to Kaiser, the school has been in touch with Herter since the donation. Jancek spoke with Herter to confirm the check's authenticity and Herter also spoke with Arnold and Kodat after they were identified as the students who helped him.

“It’s something they didn’t expect but I think they feel good that people are making a deal about it because it’s a good message,” Kaiser said of the two friends. “You do things like this, just a random act, and it could pay off. It’s all pretty cool.”