LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - They say a teacher can change a life.
"I honestly did not realize what he was doing," Tiffany Reynolds said about her father, Major Donald Wheatley.
After 22 years in the Air Force, the Major found his second calling at Moore Traditional High School. He was the ROTC instructor.
"He used to carry around a stick and he'd stick it in his ear and then he'd try to touch cadets with it," Wheatley's former student, Lillie Sandler, said. "He was the craziest man you'd ever meet."
But it was the straight talk, advice and commitment to his students that had the most impact.
"He had a student that told me that his mother had passed away and dad left school to go and sit with him, and he was the first one there," Reynolds said.
So when the Major found out he had Leukemia, the students that once filled his classroom, filled his hospital room instead.
"He really meant a lot to a lot of cadets," Sandler said.
It wasn't just his students.
"I didn't know what I was going to say at first, you know," University of Louisville football player Keith Kelsey said for an ESPN special report. "I mean that's a pretty big deal when they tell you someone doesn't have that much longer to live."
The lifelong Cards fan became family to Kelsey who continued to visit him every Monday.
At the Major's funeral on Wednesday, it was standing room only. His cadets were all in uniform.
"I couldn't imagine being more proud to be his daughter already, you know. And to see all of them there I couldn't believe it," Reynolds said.
The family man, the veteran, the teacher, who changed so many lives.
"He wouldn't understand what all the fuss was about. He wouldn't," Reynolds said.
In honor of Major Wheatley, his family is asking for people to sign up to be bone marrow donors. To find out how to register click here.