Pay It Forward: Classmates help man finish degree - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Pay It Forward: Classmates help man finish degree

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Five-hundred dollars can change someone's life, but it won't even scratch the surface of the need of a deserving Arizona family, yet one simple act of kindness can be priceless.

Wayne Hemenway's gray beard may look a bit out of place as a student in the halls of Pima Medical Institute.

Last year, he decided to ditch the high altitude work of steel welding and take a shot at a late-in-life career change.

"I want to use my head instead of my back to make a living," Hemenway said.

Three-quarters through his schooling as a respiratory therapist, he's at the top of his class, getting straight As.

Hemenway said he's using school as a mental diversion.

"Part of it is, it helps actually to be a distraction to a point," Hemenway said.

A few months ago, his wife, Nikki Hemenway, started getting migraine headaches. They don't have insurance so they waited until the pain was unbearable to go to the emergency room.

That's when a CT scan revealed she has tumors throughout her body, including two in her brain, and there's no cure.

"You're just dumbfounded. It's almost like your mind shuts off because you just can't believe what  you've just heard," Wayne Hemenway said.

Nikki Hemenway was the sole bread winner but cannot work. The money needed for her treatment means Wayne can no longer pay for school.

His classmate, Bethany Guengerich, stepped in to help.

"I know you don't ask for help, you're always there to help all of us, so this is just a little help," Guengerich told Wayne Hemenway. "You're always paying it forward to us, this is us paying it back to you."

Nikki Hemenway made her husband promise that not matter what happens to her, he would finish his degree.

"I'm so proud of him now I just can't even stand it. I hope I get to see that," Nikki Hemenway said. "He's my best friend. I don't want to leave him."

A charity account for Nikki has been set up at Wells Fargo Bank. For those wishing to donate, the account is called "Charity for Nikki Lynn Hemenway."

Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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