06/05/2014 05:04 pm ET Updated Jun 05, 2014

High School Grad Gets Heartwarming Surprise From Peers After Losing His Father

At a recent high school graduation in Missouri, students did more than just celebrate; they gave back to a fellow classmate.

Shortly before Hermann High School senior Zack Ruediger graduated, his father died suddenly from a blood clot that broke loose, according to Fox local affiliate KTVI. The student's mother had died just years before.

In response to this tragedy, Ruediger’s peers decided to raise money for the teen.

It is a tradition for seniors at Hermann High to give money to the school principal at graduation, and the principal later donates it to charity. But this year, seniors collectively decided they wanted the money to go to Ruediger and his family, according to KTVI.

Local outlet PIX11 reports Ruediger received $800 from his 68 classmates. His employer donated another $500.

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

Ruediger plans to use the money to pay for his father’s funeral, per PIX11.

The Hermann High School website has instructions for how visitors can donate more money to the Ruediger family.



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