By Kristine Milbrandt
Friends of Aaron Wernimont ’09 in his hometown of Pocahantas will hold an auction June 30 featuring Wartburg memorabilia to raise money for a scholarship in his memory.
Wernimont, a Wartburg two-time NCAA Division III championship wrestler, passed away suddenly from unknown causes March 13 while attending optometry school at the University of Indiana. The Aaron Wernimont Inspiration Fund was established to assist a Pocahontas High School graduate who demonstrates many of Wernimont’s positive qualities.
“He affected so many lives while he was on this earth,” said Jake Holtorf, a friend who helped start the fund. “The least we can all do is help pay it forward.”
A golf outing and dinner at the Pocahontas Golf Course will precede the auction, which will sell two skydiving tickets, a set of golf clubs, signed sports memorabilia from various universities, Wartburg wrestling apparel, local casino deals, green fees for golf courses across Iowa, and more.
Cody Bunda, who grew up with Wernimont, is donating a Wartburg wrestling-inspired Wernimont memorial plaque he created for the auction.
Bunda purchased a sandblaster with his father three months ago to engrave rocks as a hobby during the winter. After hearing about the auction, Bunda wanted to contribute engraved rocks.
“I wasn’t sure what to put on the rock, and then I saw the T-shirts with a shadow of Aaron with the quote ‘Make each day count’ and his signature,” Bunda said. “I thought that would be perfect — engraved with the logos of the schools he wrestled for.”
Bunda said that the Wernimont plaque also can be used as a stepping stone. An identical one featuring the Pocahontas Indian logo also was created by Bunda, who only made one of each to give the plaques uniqueness.
“Aaron was always a great friend and a class act like many people have said,” Bunda said. “In high school we played football and baseball together. He was always a great role model and, even though I was a year older than him, I still looked up to him, and it was an honor to be his friend.”
Holtorf remembers Wernimont fondly as one of his closest friends, going on family vacations with the Wernimonts and sharing life milestones.
“My relationship with Aaron was truly special,” Holtorf said. “He was, and still is, like a brother to me — except, Aaron and I never fought.”
Those with questions or donations for the Aaron Wernimont Inspiration Fund event should contact email@example.com.