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2016 Annual Report

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LAX vs. Cancer On a

LAX vs. Cancer On a cold, rain-soaked spring day, Dr. Patrick Grohar stood in the middle of the field addressing two high school lacrosse teams. They were playing a game not for glory, victory or personal achievement but in honor of their friends and loved ones who had been affected by cancer. As a physician-scientist, Grohar is well versed in the devastating impact cancer can have on people’s lives. He runs a laboratory at Van Andel Research Institute and works as a pediatric oncologist at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. When Grohar looked out and saw names of people who had been affected by cancer stitched on the backs of the players’ jerseys, he knew this event was much more than a charity lacrosse game. “It was really a uniquely special day—speaking at the game, seeing the students with names of people they loved who had cancer stitched on their jerseys was inspiring,” Grohar said. “One of the players even honored a patient from the children’s hospital—it was really moving.” The first Purple Community lacrosse game between Grand Rapids Christian and Rockford High School took place in 2015, but the event has already earned a special place in the hearts of the participants and Grohar—whose lab received more than ,000 from last year’s event. Dana Stenstrom, who works with the Grand Rapids Christian lacrosse team and is the mother of two players, views the event as a way for young adults to connect to the greater good and an opportunity for scientists to see how much their work means to people who have been affected by cancer. “When Dr. Grohar came out to meet with our players and spoke at the game, he connected all of the dots and helped our kids understand where their donation goes—it goes right into a lab that is focused on cancer research,” Stenstrom said. “We are all connected as a community here in West Michigan, and I think we are becoming aware of how lucky we are to have people like Dr. Grohar and Van Andel Institute right here in our own backyard.” “We are all connected as a community here in West Michigan, and I think we are becoming aware of how lucky we are to have people like Dr. Grohar and Van Andel Institute right here in our own backyard.” Dana Stenstrom GRAND RAPIDS CHRISTIAN AND ROCKFORD HIGH SCHOOL LACROSSE TEAMS. DR. HUI SHEN, VAN ANDEL RESEARCH INSTITUTE 6 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2016

PHILANTHROPY 2 3 DR. PATRICK GROHAR AND CAROL VAN ANDEL MEET WITH PARENTS OF THE LACROSSE PLAYERS. 1 1 Purple Community lacrosse game 20 lacrosse players honoring friends and loved ones 100+ people donated at the game We did that! Grohar, an accomplished lacrosse player who served as a team co-captain while attending Villanova University, is inspired by the Rockford and Grand Rapids Christian teams. “I just think it’s really cool that these kids are 100 percent behind this game and the goal of supporting the work we do at the Institute,” Grohar said. “I am very grateful for what they have done, and I hope by interacting with them and showing them where their funds are going, we can give them a tangible sense of accomplishment.” A new cancer drug therapy that could benefit millions of people 8 DONATIONS ,000 raised at the lacrosse game 4 The donations collected at the 2016 game will fund the initial stages of a genome-wide SRNA library screen that could lead to the discovery of a new target for cancer therapies. What does this mean? The library could identify a new drug therapy target which could lead to... 100% of donations go to VAI 5 “Any time there is a grassroots effort to raise money, I try to use it for something very specific—something people can point to and say, ‘We did that,’” Grohar said. “If the efforts of these young people can lead to a new cancer drug, perhaps they’ll be inspired to become Ph.D.s. or M.D.s and continue to make a difference in people’s lives.” 7 ,000 helps to fund the first stage of Dr. Grohar’s genome-wide SRNA library screen 6 VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2016 | 7

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