Aaron Thomas to speak to students and communities of the Allamakee Community School District March 13

Aaron Thomas ...
Aaron Thomas ...

Aaron Thomas, son of slain legendary Iowa high school football coach Ed Thomas of Aplington-Parkersburg High School, will speak to Waukon Middle School and Waukon High School students Tuesday, March 13 at 2 p.m. and to the community members of the school district later that same evening, at 7 p.m. Both presentations will be held in the Waukon High School gymnasium and are open to the general public to attend at no charge.

Thomas has a passion for impacting lives and public speaking is one avenue he utilizes. His father 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.  Not long after the community withstood the disaster of the storm, the small town of Parkersburg endured a far worse tragedy: the fatal shooting of Ed Thomas by one of his former players, who had been diagnosed with mental health issues.

Following his father’s murder, Aaron Thomas was approached to return to his hometown of Parkersburg 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 also 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 Thomas and his family called for understanding and forgiveness, because that is what Ed Thomas would have wanted them to do.

In this incredible story of ordinary people thrust into an extraordinary situation, Aaron Thomas shares his family's journey of showing uncommon strength during the darkest of times. His speaking topics can vary but they most typically address how to deal with adversity, making the most of all opportunities and the power of one. He will challenge listeners to look at their life, their family, and their job to see if they are being a difference maker.

Due to his father’s accomplishments and the reaction of the Thomas’ in their most tragic moments, the Thomas family was awarded the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage presented at the 2010 ESPY Awards. Aaron Thomas also received the Missouri Valley Conference 2010 Most Courageous Award. A book entitled the “The Sacred Acre” chronicles the accomplishments of Ed Thomas’ life and discusses the family reaction to the tragic event that took their father’s life.

Aaron Thomas was raised in Parkersburg and attended Aplington-Parkersburg High School. After graduating from high school, he attended Drake University in Des Moines. While attending Drake, Thomas was a four-year letterwinner on the Bulldog basketball team. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education,

Thomas did a short stint at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, MN as a graduate assistant basketball coach. He then proceeded to take a job in education at Union High School in La Porte City. While working at Union High School, Thomas served as the Assistant Principal, Athletic Director and head basketball coach.

Thomas furthered his education by getting his Master’s degree from Drake University in Educational Administration. He currently is an employee at Aplington-Parkersburg High School, serving as the Principal and the head basketball coach. Aaron Thomas, his wife, Ellie, and their three boys are also active members in the Congregational Church in Parkersburg.

Aaron Thomas has spoken to a wide array of groups, which include middle school, high school and college students. He has also spoken to faculty educational in-services, various businesses, churches and many other organizations.

Thomas' message of overcoming adversity focuses on having people hold true to what they believe is important in life, even when tested in the most difficult situations. How will people react when life surprises them with adversity? He will talk about how life presents people with opportunities in both good and bad situations, but how an individual responds to those opportunities is crucial.

Thomas will challenge listeners to look at their life, their family and their job to see if they are maximizing the circumstances they are presented with. His subjects also include dealing with grief and how to move on, coping skills for those that need comforting, and being acceptable of all people.

The presentations by Thomas were pursued by officials of the Allamakee Community School District following a recent unfortunate trend of tragic events within the local and surrounding area. Additional resources for support and coping with such tragedies have also been planned to be made available before and after the presentation by Thomas.

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