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Fifth annual Pay It Forward rewards the humble, hardworking

The fifth annual Pay It Forward project, sponsored each year by T’NG Plumbing of Dexter and with the support of many individuals and businesses, will honor a man who is both humble and hardworking — and well-deserving of a gift.

Daniel Johnson, 47, of Austin, is this year’s pick for a bathroom remodel by the plumbing company’s owners, Todd and Gina Grundmeier through the Pay It Forward non-profit organization.

Gina Grundmeier said Johnson’s nomination did not represent someone with an illness or unforeseen situation, as it has in the past.

“He’s just a hardworking guy, a guy who pays his bills, but has some plumbing issues he just can’t afford to fix,” Gina said.

His sister, Mary Lange, nominated him for the remodel.

“He started working at 15 and has never stopped,” Lange said in her nomination letter. “He saved his money for down payments on his cars over the years and paid off his loans in half the time they were due. When I was in college and struggling to pay rent, buy groceries, pay for car insurance … out of the blue, he sent me $100 for groceries.

“Unfortunately, in spite of all those hours of work and dedication, it doesn’t afford him the extra money needed to pay for needed repairs on his home.”

The Grundmeiers were touched by the nomination, and were anxious to help someone who worked so hard and yet was not able to fix basic needs.

“We just want to give him normal functionality,” Gina said.

She added that out of many applications, his story “just stood out.”

The work at his home will begin on March 26 and be done on March 30. Johnson will be able to enjoy living in a hotel for the week while the work is being completed.

While he is gone, the Grundmeiers and others will get to work on the issues and install a new bathroom.

“It’s kind of cool, because his birthday is March 17,” Gina said.

Johnson was overwhelmed by the news, he said.

“I had no idea,” he said. “It’s pretty amazing, really a surprise. I never thought anything like this could happen to me.”

He said he was trying to save enough money to repair the plumbing, but was finding it tough to reach his goal.

“This means a lot,” he said.

Johnson is a security guard, employed by Securitis Security Services. The company is contracted to work for Hormel Foods Corp.

The Grundmeiers are seasoned veterans at giving others a helping hand. The couple established a non-profit called “Pay It Forward” that handles the financing of the remodels, done through donations and in-kind labor.