Aidan’s Light charity makes first major donation for suicide prevention

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(ABC 6 News) – It was last summer when the Hegge’s in Kasson lost their son Aidan to suicide. Now, a year later, they have turned their grief into some positive change.

Aidan was a junior last spring, so he would have graduated with his class at Kasson-Mantorville this year.

Aidan’s family decided to start a charity earlier this year with the goal of raising money and awareness for teen suicide prevention.

"Through our grief, we needed to focus it on something positive. Nothing positive came out of our son dying, but hopefully, we can prevent this from happening to another family," Jennifer Hegge, Aidan’s mom, said.

The organization is called Aidan’s Light.

"After he passed away, people would come to us and tell us the things he did to help them. One of his friends named Ella had brought us a poem that he had written and gave to her. That was titled The Light Inside," Jennifer said.

The Hegge’s held a memorial golf tournament and a silent auction earlier this year to begin raising money for the charity.

They maxed out the number of teams available and nearly sold out of t-shirts.

"It let us know how much Aidan was loved and how much people want to help with issues like this," Ryan Hegge, Aidan’s dad, said.

The Hegge’s have raised over $40,000 so far, and they just made their first big donation Wednesday in the form of a check for $16,000 to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Ryan said it’s not always easy to pick up on the signs that someone you love may be struggling — especially your kids.

"I say give them a hug. That’s what I tell my friends. When you have a disagreement or an argument, just give them a hug and let them know you love them," Ryan said.

The Hegge’s next donation will be four $1,000 scholarships for graduating Kasson-Mantorville students next spring. They said the money will go to students who have shown great kindness because, they said, above all else, Aidan was kind.

If you would like to donate to Aidan’s Light, click here.