Ophthalmologists race for United Way | Local News

Ophthalmologists race for United Way | Local News


Dr. Seth Consoer had the advantage but Dr. Nathan Carpenter knew he’d still be the first to cross the finish line on three wheels.

“I came back from the future. I knew I was going to win,” Carpenter said, dressed as Marty McFly from the “Back to the Future” movies.

Four costumed ophthalmologists, other staff at Ophthalmology Associates and LASIK Center of Mankato and a few guests raced tricycles through an obstacle course Saturday morning.

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Justin Kuiper catches up to Seth Consoer in the finale race Saturday.

They raced for trophies and to avoid a pie in the face. But the winners and losers alike accomplished the shared goal to raise money for the Greater Mankato Area United Way.

The ophthalmologists each led a team of four fundraisers who took turns racing in the clinic’s parking lot. In between the races, spectators also supported the United Way by buying raffle tickets, a turn at carnival games and a snack.

Together they raised nearly $3,000 to support the nonprofit organization.

United Way CEO Barb Kaus said she’s seen area businesses get creative in the fundraisers they hold internally to support her organization. This is the first time a business has stepped up to organize a public event as a fundraiser, she said.

“It’s a wonderful gift and a fun time for all,” Kaus said.

Ophthalmology Associates staffer Chenoa Wilson said they hope to make the races an annual event.

A simple race on child-sized tricycles would have in itself been a challenge for the adult-sized racers.

“I worked muscles I never thought I’d work,” Carpenter said.

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Nathan Carpenter crosses the finish line. 

The racers also had to make stops along the way to complete challenges such as unwrapping Hershey’s Kisses while wearing oven mitts.

Knocking a ping pong ball off the tip of a traffic cone was the most challenging pit stop, said Radio Mankato intern Kevin Qualy.

“It’s a lot harder than it looks,” he said. “But it’s a lot of fun and for a great cause and it doesn’t get much better than that.”

Qualy was among the guest racers. United Way board of directors vice chairman Tyson Twait had little hope of winning the heat, calling himself a “guy well past his prime going up against professional athletes.” The competition was Mankato MoonDogs pitcher Ivran Romero and pitching coach Jared Morton.

The teams collected pledges before the event and the team that raised the most earned an advantage.

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Emily Birkholz, whose team finished last in the races, reacts after taking a pie in the face.

Consoer earned the right to skip one of the pit stops in the final heat of the race but couldn’t hold onto the lead after his ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage costume got caught up in the trike wheels.

Dr. Emily Birkholz’s team finished last when points from all the races were tallied. The team members were punished with pies thrown in their faces.

Carpenter and team finished first overall and were rewarded with a trophy. While his feat wasn’t quite as showy as those of his alter ego Marty McFly, Carpenter said he’s satisfied with bragging rights and knowing he helped the United Way.


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