rooting the Hero for your wife's phone is fortunately an extremely easy task compared to the EVO since its been out far longer. FreshKitchen for hero by flipz (who does Fresh for EVO as well) has a program that auto-roots it, which is what I used: Hero CDMA Geek For Me – Sprint Evo 4g & CDMA Hero
Flipz is making a FreshKitchen for the EVO now and the beta should be released soon, though!
If anyone has ideas on what might be added to this thread as far as bare basics on terminology and such, post them and I could add them.
OP updated with benefits of rooting