MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Hundreds of people turned out Thursday night in south central Minnesota to send a message to a young father fighting for his life.

They let him know that they are “#22Strong.”

Isaac Kolstad, 24, wore the number 22 during his days as a linebacker at Minnesota State University, Mankato. He’s been on life support since a fight in downtown Mankato on May 11. On Thursday night, there was an amazing show of support to raise money for his medical bills.

May 22 used to mean a step closer to a holiday weekend. Thursday, the number stood for a young man’s strength.

Sam Thompson has been a friend of Isaac’s for the last few years.

“It’s amazing to see the community support Isaac and his family like this,” Thompson said.

The fundraiser was organized by Kolstad’s colleagues at Fastenal, where he quickly became a well-liked employee after only working there for five months.

Crowds crawled through a tent on site to sign up for more than 500 donated silent auction items – from tropical trips to balls and bats with big Minnesota names.

More than $63,000 has already been raised through an online Youcaring fund.

“It says a lot about the town I think,” said Alex Daufenbach, Kolstad’s colleague.

But there was no real celebration in Mankato considering the road still ahead for Kolstad. His younger brother, Abe Kolstad, read a statement on behalf of the family.

“Isaac’s condition is still very critical and considered day-to-day. Please continue to pray for Isaac and all those involved in this incident,” Abe said. “Stay 22 strong.”

Money raised will go to Kolstad’s mounting medical bills and to help his wife, Molly. She’s raising their young daughter, and is two weeks away from delivering their second child.

“It makes you cherish the people you have around you, a lot,” Thompson said.

The Kolstad family attorney also attended the fundraiser. Kenneth White believes the family will likely file a civil lawsuit eventually.

Right now, he’s also looking at holding Mankato bars responsible if they served alcohol to Philip Nelson – one of the men charged – and Nelson’s girlfriend. Both are underage.

Police say they both had been drinking that night. Mankato Police are also asking questions about that as part of their investigation.

Liz Collin