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2016 Annual Report

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Use the Gifts You’re

Use the Gifts You’re Given – Pat Ringnalda and the Bee Brave 5K Pat Ringnalda, founder of the Bee Brave 5K, gets emotional when she talks about her work with Van Andel Institute’s Purple Community. For Ringnalda, the 5K she organizes to benefit breast cancer research at Van Andel Institute is more than philanthropy—it’s a way to share her gifts and give back. In 2016, she helped raise more than ,000 for the Institute. Ringnalda worked for years as a leading salesperson for Mary Kay cosmetics and had an innate ability to connect with people and personalize her sales. She loved her work but had a strong desire to use her talents in support of causes she felt passionately about. “I’ve always thought that I had a responsibility as an individual to use the abilities I’ve been given to help other people,” Ringnalda said. “If you’re lucky enough to realize what you’re good at, you should use it to make the world a better place.” A life-changing event After supporting national philanthropic efforts that funded domestic abuse awareness and women’s cancer charities, Ringnalda wanted the 5K to benefit a cancer research organization that was part of her West Michigan community. “I contacted all the Grand Rapids–based cancer research organizations, and I told them about my event, and that I was looking for a home in West Michigan," Ringnalda said. (TOP) BEE BRAVE RUNNERS AND WALKERS GATHER BEFORE THE 2016 BEE BRAVE 5K; (BOTTOM) PAT RINGNALDA AND HER FAMILY CELEBRATING A TREMENDOUS YEAR OF FUNDRAISING AT THE 5K. “Within 24 hours, Purple Community reached out to me, and we got to work.” The personal touch is important to Ringnalda, who works with her husband, children and friends to organize the 5K. She enjoys the opportunity to meet the Institute’s scientists and learn about how Bee Brave’s funds are used and credits these unique experiences with bringing everything full circle. “I’ve had the opportunity to meet Dr. Hui Shen and Dr. Peter Laird, two amazing scientists who are investigating cancers that affect women,” Ringnalda said. “After talking with them, I know exactly how our support will help find new treatments for cancer. Jay and Betty Van Andel must have been two amazing people to build this Institute in our community.” Hosting an event the size of the Bee Brave 5K requires many hours of work for Ringnalda, and when the days grow long, there’s one bit of wisdom that keeps her going. “Every year, when I get weary and I start to question why I’m doing this, I remind myself that it’s not about me—it’s about the women in my community and communities everywhere who have been touched by cancer, and the scientists like Dr. Laird and Dr. Shen who have dedicated their lives to this fight,” Ringnalda said. “If we keep going, I know that one day we could help them save lives.” “Jay and Betty Van Andel must have been two amazing people to build this Institute in our community.” Pat Ringnalda 28 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2016

Bringing It Full Circle at Duncan Lake PHILANTHROPY Abbey Solitro, a doctoral candidate in Van Andel Institute’s Graduate School, spends long hours working in a laboratory. Solitro usually doesn’t have time to meet with anyone or do anything that isn’t strictly focused on her lab work. But there is a group of students from a small middle school, tucked away in the West Michigan town of Caledonia, who will always have her attention. Over the course of three years, Solitro, her mentor Dr. Jeff MacKeigan and other scientists from the Institute have worked with a group of eager fundraisers at Duncan Lake Middle School who plan an annual cancer walk to benefit research at Van Andel Institute. Impressed by the students’ initiative, Solitro invited them to the Institute for a tour and spoke at their all-school assembly, where she expressed deep gratitude for all of their effort. “Meeting the students and being involved with community events keeps me very grounded in the work that I do," Solitro said. “It is also important that we let these students and staff know how grateful we are. We can’t do this work alone.” Ryan Graham, Duncan Lake’s principal, views the event as a way for students to learn organizational skills, work together to help others and interact directly with leaders in the scientific field. “We have always wanted to empower and encourage our students’ generosity and genuine desire to help,” Graham said. “And in turn, Dr. MacKeigan, Abbey and others from the Institute have brought us in and helped our students think about their futures in new and wonderful ways. To our students, these scientists are rock stars.” (TOP) DR. JEFF MACKEIGAN SPEAKING AT DUNCAN LAKE MIDDLE SCHOOL; (BOTTOM) STUDENTS AT THE 2016 CANCER WALK. “Dr. MacKeigan, Abbey and others from the Institute have brought us in and helped our students think about their futures in new and wonderful ways. To our students, these scientists are rock stars.” Ryan Graham Pushing passion further Partnering with Duncan Lake has also inspired MacKeigan and his team to stay focused and inspired in their work in cancer research. “Interactions with the students push our passion and efforts further —and it can be really transformative to work with that many kids who are so focused on making a difference,” MacKeigan said. “What we are doing together is really inspiring—the energy, passion and successful engagement shared by my team and the students makes it more than just a typical walk or event—it’s a perfect model of community action and collaboration.” VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2016 | 29

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