MASON CITY | Mike Hjelle, longtime friend and adult softball teammate of the late Mark “Doc” Detra, is a man on a mission.
Detra umpired for the Mason City Parks and Recreation Department for 40 years and was known as "Mr. Mohawk" for his devotion to Mason City High School sports teams. He died May 15, 2017, at the age of 68
Shortly after Detra’s death, Hjelle embarked upon a campaign to purchase a sculpture in his friend’s memory. That sculpture would be installed at Frederick Hanford Park's ball diamonds.
Hjelle had his heart set on raising money to purchase a sculpture called "For the Love of the Game" that is displayed in front of the Mason City Police Department.
Hjelle has spent the past year sending out flyers, passing the hat at sports events and doing whatever else he could to raise the money.
A typographical error nearly thwarted his efforts.
Recently, Hjelle discovered literature about the sculpture had transposed two numbers; the price of the sculpture is $62,000, not $26,000 as he had thought when he began his fund-raising.
"I couldn't believe it," said Hjelle. "With all the work we put into it, and all the people and organizations that had already donated, and all the people who loved 'Doc,' we couldn't let them down," he said.
He has raised $7,000 and has pledges for more, so $26,000 seemed within reach. But $62,000 was out of the question.
Rather than giving up, Hjelle turned his fund-raising efforts to the purchase of "Accuracy," another sports-related sculpture that is $10,000.
Hjelle has obtained permission from the Park Board and city staff to place the sculpture near the concession stand at Frederick Hanford.
Anyone wanting to make a contribution can contact him at 641-430-7897 or send it to River City Sculptures on Parade, Inc., 9 N. Federal Ave., Mason City, IA 50401, by March 15.