Quinn Lanners

Concussion awareness became personal for a group of Chanhassen High School teens more than two years ago when their youth pastor and assistant high school football coach fell on ice and suffered a debilitating concussion. Nick Tofteland's severe concussion in March 2013 curtailed his promising career as a youth pastor at St. Victoria Church, Victoria. In part, through the Hennepin County Medical Center Traumatic Brain Injury Program, he's been on the road to recovery.

The six Chanhassen Honor Society members created the Joggin' for the Noggin 5k event last June to help Tofteland defray his medical costs, (http://www.swnewsmedia.com/chanhassen_villager/news/archives/) but Tofteland had a better suggestion: that the teens donate the funds to HCMC's Traumatic Brain Injury Program, which raises concussion awareness.

Last year's successful event had 120 participants and raised more than $3,000 for HCMC. “We received positive feedback from all of the participants,” said Quinn Lanners, one of the teen organizers, “and the people we worked with from HCMC were incredibly pleased with the success of the event. We were able to put the race on thanks to our sponsors Anderson Race Management, College Expert, Klein Bank and OSR Physical Therapy, along with prize donations from a variety of community members.

The success prompted the young men — now 2015 Chanhassen High graduates — to put on the event again. This year's Joggin' for the Noggin 5k begins at 8 a.m. Saturday, June 20, at Chanhassen High School. To sign up, go to https://jogginforthenoggin.webconnex.com/5k.

It was more difficult garnering support and race signups in the second year, Lanners said, but he added the group is excited to put on a successful event again this year.

“This year's sponsors include College Expert, Gopher State Events, Klein Bank, Chanhassen Rotary and Dentistry by the Ponds,” Lanners said. “We're looking forward to someone else taking on the event once we move on to college in the fall.”

Lanners is heading to Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles; Bill Bjork will attend the University of Southern California; Isaiah Kent-Schneider is headed for Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa; Shane Mahabadi to the University of Minnesota; and Eric Mason to Washington University, St. Louis, Mo.

Q: What is Nick Tofteland's status? Was he able to coach last season?

A: This year Nick served a key role on the varsity football team’s coaching staff. Nick always brought energy and fun to every practice and got the best out of each and every one of his players. He worked primarily with the offensive line and scout teams while connecting with each and every player. Nick recently had his first son, Cole, with his wife, Jen. While we may not see him everyday like during football season, Nick continues to be a role model for each and every one of us.

Q: You participate in sports. Has this concussion awareness program/effort changed the way you prepare and play sports?

A: I played football and track. As an athlete in a sport where concussions are a common occurrence, I have seen an incredible increase in the care of such brain injuries. The transition the whole sport has made to being cautious concerning such injuries is very promising. While we still have room to improve in concussion care, the type of treatment that is done in today’s sports rather than even five years ago, makes the future of contact sports much more hopeful and safe.

Q: Do you think this event will continue past this year? 

A: We sure hope this event is able to continue past this year. Following the conclusion of this year’s event, we as a team will create a portfolio with all of the information we ever used for the event. From there we will pass it on to our National Honor Society chapter and encourage one of next year’s small groups to take on the challenge that we did two years ago.

— Unsie Zuege


Unsie Zuege is an award-winning multimedia journalist, who enjoys community journalism, bibimbop, Netflix, Trivia Mafia and snuggling tiny dogs, not necessarily in that order.