Forté Duo Helps Retired Bloomington Teacher Cross the Finish Line and Climb Mountains

Posted on 
December 20, 2022

Bloomington’s Mike Conklin is the kind of guy who will let the store manager know about the service he’s received.

Good service, that is.

“If I go into a Target or Wal-Mart and one of the employees treats me well, I’ll ask to see their supervisor,” Conklin says. “The employee will get nervous and worried that I’m going to complain. Instead, I want to let their supervisor know how well I was treated.”

That’s the man’s personality. And that’s the reason he reached out to Forté Sports Medicine and Orthopedics to let them know his ongoing satisfaction with the care he’s received at the Bloomington clinic.

In particular, from Dr. Rick Weidenbener and Dr. Gary Gettelfinger.

“Neither one of them are looking for attention,” says Conklin. “But the passion for what they do and the personal attention they provide is special and deserves to be recognized.”

But first, the back story which is, the back story. Conklin’s aching back, that is. He’s 68, now retired after a career in teaching and coaching except for a current fifth grade basketball coaching gig in Bloomington. But he still considers himself an athlete, albeit an elderly one.

In his younger days, he played football and baseball in high school. He was good enough to pitch a couple of years of college ball. He graduated from Northern Illinois University and went into teaching health and physical education as well as coaching baseball and basketball. The journey took him from Fort Wayne to Vincennes and eventually to Eastern (Greene) High School, where he was the varsity baseball coach.

It was there that Conklin’s insistence on pitching batting practice – in concert with his disdain of a pitching machine – eventually took a toll on his back, resulting in a herniated disc.

That led him to Bloomington Bone and Joint – now Forté – and Drs. Weidenbener and Gettelfinger. Weidenbener prescribed stretches and exercises. Gettelfinger specialized in pain management.

What both did was stay in contact throughout his treatment. It wasn’t here-today-gone-tomorrow treatment.

Their care and attention were necessary because, well, Conklin had other pursuits, such as running marathons and, oh, climbing a mountain in Colorado.

He wasn’t about to back off, pun intended, with special regard to a running event in Memphis: The St Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend.

He signed up in early September to run the half marathon, but as he prepared for the race, his back began to increase in pain and was forced to stop training in early November. The pain was excruciating,” Conklin said.

Two weeks before the December 5th race he visited Dr. Weidenbener. “Weidenbener examined him and did an MRI the next day. Treatment required an epidural from Gettelfinger.

“It was like magic,” Conklin said. “I was cured.”

Not in the best cardiovascular shape, Conklin nonetheless traveled to Memphis and completed the 5K.

“I was gassed,” he said. “But the money raised goes to those wonderful children. And as you near the finish you go past the hospital and you see all those children saying thank you. And that makes it worth it.”

Oh, and that mountain climb. He credits Weidenbener and Gettelfinger for helping him be physically able to do that. It was Longs Peak, 14,259 at the summit. “I always wanted to climb a mountain because I’m afraid of heights,” said Conklin. “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life and it took me eight hours to reach the summit.”

Without question, the Forté duo was with him at the top.

“Rick is Mr. Compassionate,” says Conklin. “Gary’s got this tough, gruff exterior but inside he has a huge heart. Every now and then, they will call just to see how I’m doing. Like I said, when people do a great job, I want to let the people in charge know.”

Mission accomplished.

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