MANKATO — Every spring the seniors at East High School gather on the football field for a photo, forming their graduation year with their bodies.
Wednesday the tradition continued with the seniors' “14” portrait. But this year they had one more portrait to take to honor one of their own: No. 22.
Todd Waterbury, activities director, said the students and some staff came up with the idea to show support of 2008 East High School graduates Isaac and Molly (Barnett) Kolstad and their families. Isaac, who played football at East and wore No. 22, was beaten early Sunday in downtown Mankato and remained in critical condition Wednesday with severe head injuries. Molly and Isaac met at East and have been married a little more than a year.
“They wanted to do something in support of the Kolstads and Isaac,” said Waterbury, who knew Isaac at East and is a friend of the family.
Rebekah Kolstad is Isaac's younger sister and a junior at East, where other efforts are taking place to pay tribute to the family. Waterbury said “22 Strong” posters are up at school, as well as window stickers and bumper stickers on cars. Students also are having bracelets made in Isaac's honor for students to wear.
As of Wednesday afternoon, an online fundraiser for the family had surpassed $27,000 at YouCaring.com. The fundraiser has been bolstered by #22Strong tweets on Twitter, including one by East grad and San Francisco 49ers player Craig Dahl, who described himself as Kolstad's “good friend.”
“I think it's a terrific thing that the East community is showing support for the Kolstad family,” Waterbury said.
Friends and well-wishers in the Mankato area also are showing a great deal of support on social media.
Joan Baynes Scharmer tweeted, "We are family and we are behind you fighting this battle too! #22STRONG."
Brady DesLauriers tweeted, "Proud to be a cougar and show support for Isaac and the Kolstad family! #22Strong."