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PAY IT FORWARD

Friend recognized for helping family through pains of ALS

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Gary, Dawn and family. Gary, Dawn and family.
Dawn presenting Kristin with the $500. Dawn presenting Kristin with the $500.
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

They say you really find out who your friends are in times of trouble and that couldn't be more true for a Valley family struggling through their last days with a loved one. They found strength and peace from someone close to home.

Two years ago, at the age of 41, Gary Demarino was diagnosed with an aggressive form of ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. There is no cure.

It wasn't long before Demarino lost the use of his limbs and within six months he could no longer talk.

Gary Demarino met his wife, Dawn Demarino, when they were just kids and along with the devastation of watching him die - being a caregiver for someone with ALS is a full-time job. It can be overwhelming if you don't have friends like Kristin Nemetz.

Nemetz first organized a Demarino family photo and she set up a schedule of friends to be with Gary Demarino around the clock.

"I would do anything for them. I love them, like my family," Nemetz said.

Gary Demarino passed away last February, but Nemetz promised him she would keep working to raise awareness for ALS. So with new T-shirts flashing Gary's stellar smile, the team will march in his honor this weekend.

Gary's wife and his mother, Kathy Demarino, presented Nemetz with $500 from CBS 5 News' Pay It Forward.

"I feel humbled and honored and I really appreciate the recognition," Nemetz said.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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