August 12, 2015:
Aaron Thomas has experienced a deadly tornado that devastated his hometown of Parkersburg, Iowa, and the shooting death of his father by a mentally disturbed man. Through it all, his faith and the faith of his family never wavered.
Thomas will address how to deal with adversity, make the most of all opportunities, and the importance of family when he visits the Clarke University campus for the Mackin-Mailander Featured Lecture at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 23, in the Robert and Ruth Kehl Center. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Aaron Thomas’ father, Ed, was a beloved high school football coach who not only trained generations of players on the importance of hard work, dedication, excellence and commitment, but personally put these values into action when he was the community leader who inspired his town to rebuild in the wake of a deadly EF 5 tornado in 2008.
Not long after the community withstood the disaster of the storm, Parkersburg endured a far worse tragedy: the fatal shooting of Ed Thomas by a former player with mental health issues. Following his father’s murder, Aaron was approached to return home to take over his father’s responsibilities as athletic director and to continue the legacy his father had built in being not only a school leader, but an example for the town to follow.
Rather than shun the family of their father’s murderer and perpetuate the tragedy that Parkersburg faced, Aaron and his family called for understanding and forgiveness – because that’s what Ed Thomas would have wanted them to do.