Mankato area community turns out for assault victim

Published 9:50 am Friday, May 23, 2014

By Dan Nienaber

The Free Press

MANKATO — Smoke was rising from the burgers and brats sizzling on a huge grill; 750 yellow and purple #22STRONG shirts sat, neatly stacked, on a row of tables; and some of the many volunteers were taping the bid sheets on dozens of items donated for a silent auction.

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It was 15 minutes before the official start of the Kolstad Family Benefit, and people were already starting to wander into the event set up by Fastenal, Isaac Kolstad’s employer. As all that work was taking place, Kolstad remained in critical condition in a hospital intensive care unit, where he has been on life support since a May 11 assault outside a downtown bar.

Volunteer Steve Wegman was doing his best to not think about that.

The owner of Weggy’s Bar and Grill was standing in the smoke of the cooking food. Fastenal had ordered enough to feed 1,800 people, but local grocery stores were prepared to supply more if needed.

“It’s kind of somber,” Wegman said. “You’re having fun, but then you stop and think about why you’re doing it and it’s like ahhh.”

The event also provided a chance for the Kolstad family to thank the community and others for all of the support they have received. A site set up for the family had raised more than $46,000 by Thursday afternoon. Thousands more would be raised during the benefit.

Many people have sent encouraging messages and promises to pray for Isaac, who has a young daughter, Haidyn. His wife, Molly, is pregnant with another daughter. Kolstad’s younger brother, Abe, started the event by reading a statement from 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,” Abe Kolstad 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. We truly thank you all.”

He also said his brother’s condition remained “very critical and considered day-to-day.”

Alex Foster and her mother, Wendy Foster, were among the people who don’t know the Kolstad family but wanted to help. They were picking out $10 T-shirts for themselves and two nieces before getting in line to provide free-will offerings for dinner.

Alex Foster attended Mankato East High School, where Isaac Kolstad was a standout football player before later playing at North Dakota State and Minnesota State universities. Kolstad is a few years younger than her, but they have mutual friends.

“I’m here because it’s a good cause,” she said.

The Fosters weren’t sure if they were going to bid on any auction items, which included tools, signed sports memorabilia, vacations, fishing gear, a Shiner Beers guitar and amplifier and a variety of other items.

—Distributed by MCT Information Services .