Kasson-Mantorville Class of 2022 honors classmate Aidan Hegge at graduation ceremony
(ABC 6 News) – It’s been almost two years since Aidan Hegge died by suicide at the age of 17.
The Kasson-Mantorville class of 2022 honored Hegge at their graduation ceremony on Friday night by placing a sticker on the tops of their graduation caps so he could be there in spirit.
"We never pictured ourselves being in this position," Aidan’s mother Jennifer Hegge said.
In the bleachers on their son’s graduation day, but without their son.
"Celebrating and crying at the same time," Jennifer said. "(We) always miss him in the moments, especially the bigger moments. He was very special."
Classmates and friends of Aidan, Jenna Stannard and Cassidy Thompson, have known Aidan for as long as they can remember. They said everyone in Kasson has gone to school together since preschool or daycare.
"Whether you were close with him or not, you knew Aidan. Everyone knows him. Everyone," Stannard said. "He was really good at putting smiles on people’s faces. That’s just what he did. So I think it kind of shocked everyone."
One thing everyone has said about Aidan is he always put everyone else before himself.
"When you saw him in the hallway he would give you like the biggest wave and he just brought such a good environment into the classroom when he was in there," Thompson said.
"He was extremely goofy," Stannard added.
The seniors said this brought their class closer together.
"We didn’t really worry about our friend groups anymore. It was just one big friend group and we kind of all just hung out together," Stannard said.
Ryan and Jennifer Hegge said milestones like these are always tough. Aidan’s birthday is coming up on June 11. He would have been 19-years-old.
"And as far as we know his plans would’ve been going into the Army. That’s what he always wanted to do his whole life. I think since he was six," Aidan’s father Ryan Hegge said.
Aidan’s Light, a non-profit which focuses on mental health awareness and suicide prevention, specifically for the youth, has been created by the Hegge’s since they lost Aidan. Ryan said this helps keep them busy.
"Because our goal is to have a world without suicide so nobody else has to go through this like we have," Jennifer said.
The Hegge family hopes to get more suicide awareness and mental health programs in schools.
Even the weather on graduation day was perfect and Thompson and Stannard think it was because of Aidan.
"Of course the one day we graduate it’s sunny and 70 degrees and it’s been rainy and cloudy every single day. And I think that just shows whether you believe it or not, that Aidan is here and he’s making it the best day," Stannard said.
Aidan’s Light will be making a $10,000 donation to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) during the pre-game at the Minnesota Twins game on his birthday, June 11.
The 2nd Annual Aidan Hegge Memorial Golf Tournament will be held on June 25 at the Cedar River Country Club in Adams. The money raised will go to fund four $1,000 scholarships in Aidan’s name at the Kasson-Mantorville High School and other organizations that involve suicide and mental health.