Pictured: Zach Ruediger receiving his high school diploma.(Photo courtesy of Leann Ruediger) UPDATED INFORMATION below is information about how to make a donation.
By: QNN's Kelly Hoffmann
HERMANN, Mo. - On May 21, Hermann High School held its graduation ceremony for the class of 2014. That evening as the graduates walked across the stage they gave money to the principal, which has been a tradition over the past years where money collected during the commencement going towards a charity chosen by that year’s senior class.
When graduate Zack Ruediger was waiting to walk across the stage to receive his diploma he noticed what his classmates were doing, so he emptied the money out of his pocket and handed the money to the principal, not knowing the money was being raised for his family.
Zack lost his mother in 2012 to cancer and then his father, LeRoy Ruediger, five days before his graduation. The school responded by also holding a hat day to raise money for the family, since both Zack and his younger sister Becky were students at the school. The seniors also stepped up by raising money at their graduation.
“We were blown away because we did not know that it was happening,” Zack’s sister-in-law, Leann Ruediger said. “We were shocked but we were also grateful. Zack told me that he never realized how many people knew him and his family. Words cannot begin to describe the amount of generosity people show when others are in need. It’s absolutely amazing.”
Leann said Zack was shocked by what his classmates did for his family, but he was also grateful, and didn’t feel alone because of the support his classmates showed him.
Tracy Vedder, a teacher at Hermann High School, said the senior class raised over $500 at the graduation, the hat day totaled about $300, and Zack and Becky’s boss, Steve Strubberg, matched the $500 collected during gradation. Altogether, over $1,655 was collected for the Ruediger family.
“It’s hard to put into words what these students did, because I will always be grateful,” Leann said. “They were there to back them (Zack and Becky) up in one of the hardest times of their lives.”
Vedder said the class of 2014 had also lost a classmate their sophomore year in a car crash, so “they’ve been through tough times, which made them stronger in the end.”
Because of the overwhelming demand of people wanting to help from all over the United States, to take the burden off the family the Hermann Area Community Foundation, which is a 501 (c)3 not profit orginization will handle all donations.
Please make the check payable to the "Hermann Area Community Foundation"
In the memo please include Zach Ruediger Fund.
Checks can be mailed to:
Gasconade County R-I School District
170 Blue Pride Drive
Hermann, MO 65041
Funds will go towards both Zach and Becky’s education. Zach will be entering his first year of college this coming fall and Becky will be a junior at Hermann High School.