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2017 Annual Report

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A Perfect Day, an

A Perfect Day, an Unforgettable Memory Jens Bach loved to see his grandson, Jake, play football. On a warm September afternoon, Jens sat in his wheelchair with his nurse, Joyce, at his side watching as Jake played in the Hope College Purple Community game. It wasn’t easy to see every part of the game, but he knew that Jake was wearing a jersey that had Jens “Flex” Bach stitched on the back in his honor. He was at the very end of his long fight with cancer, but Jens wanted to be there to watch Jake play, one last time. “It was a perfect day,” said Mary VanderVeen, Jens’ daughter and Jake’s mom. “My dad loved watching Jake’s games, and as the football season approached, it became clear that we didn’t have much time left with him, so the Purple Community game became an important event for us.” Mary and her husband, Scott, along with family and friends, came from all across the country to be there with Jens at the game. “My dad passed away almost one week after the Purple Community game. That game has come to mean so much to us as a family,” Mary said. “He was such a kind, gentle and strong man who loved his family, and having that moment with him was really something we will never forget.” Purple Community events do more than raise funds for research; they bring people together through a shared experience, and often, they create unforgettable memories. Every jersey has a name When Scott VanderVeen looked out in the stands during the game, he noticed that Jens and his family were among (LEFT TO RIGHT) COACH STUURSMA, MARGIE & JENS BACH, JAKE VANDERVEEN, CAROL & DAVID VAN ANDEL. hundreds of other people with their own stories of life, loss and love. “What is so great and moving about Purple Community games is that everyone there has a special relationship to the cause, and even though our family was there in a big group for Jens, it was so wonderful to see other families who were there supporting their loved ones,” Scott said. “Every player had a name on the back of their jersey, and I knew they were playing for someone who was important to them — someone they loved or maybe someone they lost in the fight against cancer.” Caroline Dykstra, assistant athletic director at Hope College, has seen firsthand how important Purple Community games are to families whose lives have been affected by cancer. For her and the athletes she works with, the events are a time of great emotion and great purpose. “Everyone who attends our games has a story about someone who has fought a battle with cancer,” Dykstra said. “Our partnership with Purple Community gives us the chance to honor people like Jens, give back to our community in a meaningful way and help raise funds for a cause we are incredibly passionate about.” When the game ended on that late-summer afternoon, and Jake said goodbye to his teammates and left the field, he walked toward his family and his grandfather Jens sitting in his wheelchair. Jens never had the chance to play football as a young man, but one week before he passed away, surrounded by his friends and family, Jake handed his grandfather the jersey he wore during the game. It was the least he could do for his biggest fan. 36 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2017

PHILANTHROPY Purple Community Purple Community, Van Andel Institute’s grassroots fundraising and awareness program, connects individuals, schools, teams and businesses to the resources needed to support groundbreaking cancer and Parkinson’s disease research. In 2017, Purple Community members hosted more than 150 events throughout Michigan that raised more than 2,000. Purple Community events bring people from every walk of life together to celebrate the power of family, friendship and community action. They also give people the chance to honor those fighting disease and pay tribute to those who have lost their fight against cancer and Parkinson’s. Every event is a collection of stories — people coming together to support one another and help make the world a better, healthier place. (LEFT TO RIGHT) JENS' FRIENDS & FAMILY; DAVID & CAROL VAN ANDEL, HOPE COLLEGE FOOTBALL COACHES & TEAM; HOPE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYERS WITH CAROL & DAVID VAN ANDEL. VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2017 | 37

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