Friend Pays it Forward to Phoenix-area business owner for helping hurricane victim

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

Deon Nikolich loves fixing cars, but he also has a passion for helping people.

"We're both from Bosnia, so we know how it is when hard times come," said close friend Enver Batlak. "If we can help somebody out, we will."

The Phoenix auto repair shop owner saw the devastation in Texas when Hurricane Harvey hit and knew immediately that he had to do something to help.

"I have friends there, some very close friends, and if we were in the same situation they would have done the same thing for us," said Nikolich.

With the help of social media, Nikolich quickly organized a fundraising car show and asked everyone coming to bring water, diapers, food, blankets and anything else so Nikolich could drive the supplies to Houston to help families in need.

"They just kept dropping off stuff and dropping off stuff," said Nikolich. "It was a little overwhelming. A lot of people came together to help out."

Nikolich said that delivering his trailer full of stuff to Hurricane victims was the greatest experience of his life and taking off work and spending a lot of his own money didn't matter one bit.

"My favorite part was watching all the kids go through the toys and pick out what they needed, and what they wanted, and seeing the smiles on their faces," said Nikolich.

But it's the single father's generosity that prompted his friends to reach out to CBS 5 and Pay it Forward to Nikolich, and give him $500.

His friends surprised him with the money one day at work.

"You know how you helped those people out during the Hurricane?" Batlak told Nikolich. "We want to thank you for doing what you did, and for the people in Texas out there, and helping them out. On behalf of all of us and Channel 5, we want to Pay it Forward to you."

Nikolich is now thinking of making another road trip -- this time to Florida.

"We might be making a trip out there with a bigger truck and a bigger trailer," said Nikolich.

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Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

Jason Barry
Jason Barry has been reporting in the Valley since 1997.

Click to learn more about Jason.

Jason Barry

Jason Barry has been reporting in the Valley since 1997.

He is a nine-time Rocky Mountain Emmy Award winner who is best known for his weekly Dirty Dining reports, which highlight local restaurants with major health code violations.

Jason was born in Los Angeles and graduated from the University of Miami.

An avid sports fan, Jason follows the Diamondbacks, Cardinals and Suns with his wife, Karen, and son, Joshua.

His favorite stories to cover are the station’s Pay it Forward segments, which reward members of the community with $500 for going ‘above and beyond’ the call of duty to help others.

Jason, started his career at WBTW-TV in Florence, SC before moving to WALA-TV in Mobile, AL, was named the Associated Press Reporter of the Year in 2002.

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