Caden Thomas – A Beloved Son, Brother, Grandson, Nephew, and Cousin
Caden Thomas was an exceptional son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin and friend who enjoyed making people smile with his infectious laugh. Always up for new adventures he was eagerly looking forward to life’s experiences and looking to bring joy and happiness into others lives.
His first start of 2018 at Hawai’i on October 8 saw him register three tackles, including a career-high sack and tackle for loss, in 51 defensive snaps. Additionally, he recovered a blocked punt that resulted in a touchdown return.
Early Life and Education
Caden Thomas, 15, died Saturday night of what appears to be an accidental gunshot wound to the head, located on 200 Lincoln Road in Marquette Heights in Tazewell County. He attended Georgetowne Middle School nearby where he participated on basketball, baseball and track teams as well as video gaming and martial arts training – son of Sheila Saunders and Anthony Saunders.
As a student at Waldorf University, Caden was part of the men’s hockey team. Upon graduating with his degree in business with an emphasis on finance and banking, Caden joined Sterling Bank as a credit analyst, as well as serving on their alumni board and credit committee at Birch Street Baptist Church.
Caden was a regular starter at San Diego State in 2022, playing all 14 games and starting 13 of them. He recorded 43 tackles (18 solo), two sacks, 8.5 tackles for loss, an interception, two pass breakups and nine quarterback hurries as well as blocking one PAT during the season’s finale game. Caden also trialed in preseason with local Canadian Premier League club Valour FC.
Achievement and Honors
Caden was an exceptional individual whose generosity inspired others. From strumming his guitar around a campfire or hiking up one of the local trails, to making people laugh with his lively personality he lived life to its fullest. A beloved son, brother, grandon, nephew and cousin whose life touched more people than he knew himself
Caden’s unexpected death has left a hole in those he loved. While nothing can ever ease their sorrow, they find comfort from an outpouring of support from friends and family alike. A GoFundMe page has been set up in his name to cover funeral costs; donations made are helping ease some of the financial strain and Caden will live on in our hearts and memories forever.
Caden was an unforgettable member of his family and community. His energetic personality brought joy and laughter into all who knew him; we will miss him profoundly but will always remember his bright spirit and sense of humor. We will miss him deeply but never forget him.
At this difficult time, his family appreciates all of the love and support received from across their community. Generous donations and kind gestures have eased their financial burden as a result of this tragic event.
On Monday at Preston-Hanley Funeral Homes & Crematory in Pekin, an event to remember Zach is scheduled. Friends, family, and members of the community are welcome to attend and pay their respects. Please keep Zach’s parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins in your thoughts and prayers as they grieve their son’s loss.
Caden was beloved son to both parents, an attentive brother to [siblings names] and grandchild to [grandparents names], an affectionate nephew of many aunts and uncles; he touched many lives with his joy for life and zest for living. Caden will be sorely missed. At this difficult time his family requests privacy and compassion during this grievous loss.
He enjoyed cycling as an outlet to experience life fully and explore places unknown. Additionally, he was passionate about renewable energy sources such as sleeping under the stars.
Alongside his professional endeavors, he was also highly active on social media, becoming known as a TikTok star with millions of followers worldwide. He frequently posted short form comedy videos as well as lip sync and prank videos.