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Seniors’ sweet plan during graduation surprises student who lost both parents

HERMANN, Mo. (KTVI) – Like many seniors, Zack Ruediger was excited to graduate high school.

However, the monumental event was bittersweet.

Just days before graduation, his father suddenly died.

“A blood clot broke loose and took him from the family, ” said Ruediger.

Zack also lost his mother in 2012.

“It’s made me grow up a lot faster than I think anyone should ever have to,” he said.

After learning about the tragedy, his fellow graduating seniors decided to do something special for Zack.

One-by-one, as each student received their diploma, they handed their principal money.

Zack noticed everyone handing over cash, so he emptied his pockets too.

Little did he know, the money raised was actually for him.

“I kind of felt gratitude towards everybody but embarrassed about what I did, ” he said.

Jamie Gleeson told KTVI, “That’s just like Zack. He’s really sweet and nice.”

The deputy superintendent of the school district says students raised more than $800 and another $500 was donated by Zack’s employer.

“Everyone just started cheering because we were really, really happy how much money we raised,” said Kirsten Leimkuehler. “It’s just really cool we had the opportunity to do that.”

Zack said, “I have a lot of friends who care about me and that they’re willing to go the extra mile to help me out. And it’s just astonishing with what people can do for others.”