Two families in Hastings dealing with cancer now connected by two acts of kindness

Every year, the Hastings High School Volleyball Booster Club helps a family that has been impacted by cancer. Now the family that received this year's donation is paying it forward.

"Of course it makes me feel very grateful, but you also want to avoid that attention just makes it that more real," said Shelley Gegen.

Gegen's son, John, who is a junior at the school, battled and beat cancer when he was just 5 years old. But just before the school year started, they learned John had another form of cancer in his leg. So the volleyball booster club raised $4,000 to help the Gegens with unexpected expenses, giving the family a check before a volleyball game last month.

"In moments like that, it's hard for me to keep it together because you are just overwhelmed with the kindness and generosity and you are surrounded in love but it's such a good feeling," said Gegen.

The very next day, the father of one of the volleyball players on the JV team, Hastings High School history teacher Bill Ruder, learned the stomach ache he had experienced a few days before was actually stage four colon cancer. When the Gegens found out about his diagnosis, they decided to give half the money the boosters had given them to Ruder and his family.

"Our family knows what it's like to all of a sudden be thrust into the world of cancer and if we can help them in any way, we want to do that," said Gegen.

Gegen says John is in for several months of chemotherapy and surgery but she's optimistic he will beat the disease for a second time. And she hopes sharing her family's donation with the Ruders lets them know they are not alone during these difficult days.

"I'm honored to reach out and be able to help somebody because it is an unknown road they are traveling and it is scary and it is frightening and to know somebody else has walked that same path is helpful. It gives you hope in those dark times," said Gegen.