A massive turnout from Mankato and beyond Thursday raised tens of thousands of dollars for the family of Isaac Kolstad, the former Minnesota State University, Mankato linebacker who remains critically injured following a fight early May 11.
Kolstad’s employer, Fastenal of Mankato, held the fundraiser with hundreds of donated items, including autographed sports items, that were sold in live and silent auctions. Family attorney Ken White estimated that 2,000 to 3,000 people attended, many wearing T-shirts with the hashtag #22strong, a reference to Kolstad’s jersey number.
The exact amount raised was still being tallied late Thursday, White said.
Kolstad, 24, who suffered a fractured skull and other injuries, remained in a medically induced coma at Mayo Clinic Health System on Thursday night. White says that he’s improving.
Physicians have told Kolstad’s wife that his recovery will be “a marathon,” White said. Kolstad has a 3-year-old daughter and his wife is pregnant.
Two men have been charged in the attack in downtown Mankato, including former Gophers quarterback Phillip Nelson.
Jason Eck, an assistant football coach at MSU, said several current and former MSU football players were among those who attended. “It was very encouraging; it was neat to see the outpouring,” Eck said.
Eck also noted the wide range of items auctioned. They included 22 cigars from Twins’ manager Ron Gardenhire’s 1,000th win, baseball bats from Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, Jerome Simpson’s used cleats and a football signed by Bud Grant.
“It was pretty amazing on a relatively short notice just how much was donated,” Eck said.
This week, the Kolstad family said on CaringBridge that the swelling in Isaac’s brain had gone down. They were expected to update the site with more encouraging news either late Thursday or early Friday, White said.
Kolstad’s brother, Abe Kolstad, read a statement Thursday on behalf of the family.
“We cannot begin to express our sincere gratitude to you all for the amazing efforts we’ve seen to help our family over these last two weeks,” he said.
“It is simply astounding to see so many people — many we know and even some we don’t — come forth in so many different and creative ways to help out. We are so humbled and very honored to live in such a wonderfully supportive community.”
Even before Thursday’s fundraiser, $50,000 had been raised for Kolstad’s care and his family.
Trevor Shelley, 21, of St. Peter, Minn., and Nelson, 20, have posted bail and been released from the Blue Earth County jail. They are charged with first- and third-degree assault. According to charges, Shelley allegedly punched Kolstad, knocking him out. Nelson allegedly kicked Kolstad in the head as he lay on the pavement.
Details of the incident remain under investigation, White said.