A class reunion took on extra meaning when leftover money was dedicated to a charity close to class members’ hearts.

The Abraham Lincoln High School Class of 1989 held its 30-year reunion on A.L.’s Homecoming weekend, Sept. 27-28. Alumni from the close-knit class came from as far away as Washington state, North Carolina, Dallas and Arizona to attend, according to Jeremy Thielen, a member of the planning committee made up of class members who have settled in Council Bluffs.

“People make an effort to come back for these,” he said.

Organizers — who also included Charity Hathaway, Todd Thies, Dawn Kirchert, Colleen Brabec, Derek Bristol and Cathy Halder — had arranged to take a tailgate bus to the game, as the class had done for its 25-year reunion, Thielen said. It picked them up at The Dock Bar & Grill (owned by A.L. alumni Lee and Trisha Gillespie) and took them back there when they were ready to leave the game.

“We just got a RAGBRAI bus from some people I know with a top deck on it,” he said. “You get a unique view of the field.”

About 100 showed up at The Dock, Thielen said.

On Sept. 28, alumni met for a full dinner in a party room at Caddy’s Kitchen & Cocktails. About 60 attended the dinner, including a few who just came and ordered off the menu.

When the bills were paid, there was still some money in the kitty, Thielen said.

“I actually had about $200 left over after everything was said and done,” he said.

Thielen thought it would be nice to give the money to a charity and thought a suicide prevention organization would be appropriate.

“We’ve lost 10 classmates since graduation, and I think five of them — including two very close friends of mine — committed suicide,” he said. “I was personally pretty affected by it.”

The class has a Facebook group that 200 of about 280 remaining members belong to, so Thielen posted a message on the group’s page asking if other alums would like for the money — along with whatever others wanted to contribute — to be donated to a suicide prevention organization.

“Once I made the suggestion, people just jumped on it pretty quickly,” he said. “We turned that $200 into $1,300 pretty dang quick.”

Thielen sent the money to The Iowa Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Then another alum, who works at Principal Financial Group, told Thielen his company might match the donation, if Thielen sent him a receipt. He did, and Principal said it would match it dollar for dollar, resulting in a combined total of $2,600 going to the charity.

Thielen is hoping other classes and organizations will follow the Class of 1989’s example and donate money left from special events to charities.

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