11 months ago

2018 Annual Report


PURPLE COMMUNITY BREAKS A RECORD — RAISING MORE THAN 0,000 FOR CANCER AND PARKINSON’S DISEASE RESEARCH GENERATIONS OF DUNCAN LAKE MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS RAISE 0,000 TO SUPPORT CANCER RESEARCH PHILANTHROPY In 2018, Purple Community broke their yearly record for fundraising. Grassroots events, volunteers, schools and community partners helped raise more than 0,000 that directly benefits Van Andel Institute’s (VAI) biomedical research and education initiatives. Founded in 2009, Purple Community has grown into a widespread fundraising force and has raised more than .4 million for Van Andel Institute. “In 2018, we were able to work with more than 80 volunteers and help grassroots fundraisers host 121 events,” said Ashley Owen, Purple Community senior event coordinator. “This year was also really special because we had the opportunity to team up with 44 marathoners who participated in both the Chicago and New York races, raising over ,000.” Purple Community began with West Michigan-based events — working primarily with local grade schools and high schools, but has steadily increased its reach — spreading hope across the state of Michigan and beyond. “We are really grateful to work with such amazing and dedicated community and media partners, schools and business leaders,” Owen said. “Everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer or Parkinson’s disease, and Purple Community exists to give people touched by these diseases the chance to come together and do something extraordinary, and make a real contribution to the Institute’s research right here in Grand Rapids.” Events like the Consumers Credit Union Purple Community 5K, the Bee Brave 5K, and collaborations with schools, entertainers, musicians and local sports teams have brought VAI’s mission to a wide variety of new audiences. “Purple Community is exactly that — a community of people connecting and reaching out to businesses, schools, family, friends and coworkers to create hope. Hope for their loved ones facing devastating diseases we research right here at VAI — and our job at Purple Community is to help these individuals who have a passion for our mission by giving them the resources to host successful fundraising events,” Owen said. “Whenever I meet an event organizer, volunteer or participant, and they share their stories with me, those stories drive me and the entire team here at VAI to make Purple Community the force it is today — I’m just so humbled and honored to be a part of it all.” To learn more about Purple Community and how you can get involved, visit ASHLEY OWEN WITH PURPLE COMMUNITY EVENT VOLUNTEERS. Duncan Lake Middle School in Caledonia, Michigan, sits tucked away between sprawling farmland and rolling country roads. From the outside, its brown brick building looks like an average middle school anywhere in the United States but inside, its students have achieved something extraordinary. For more than a decade, the school’s student council has planned and hosted an event that has inspired their quiet, rural community and raised more than 0,000 to benefit cancer research at Van Andel Institute (VAI). By working together and passing the torch to successive generations of students, Duncan Lake has redefined what young people can do when their hearts and minds are united by a common cause. Hannah Jablonski, a 23-year-old recent college graduate, remembers being a creative, expressive eighth-grader at Duncan Lake. As a member of the school’s student council, she worked with her classmates to plan and organize the very first Cancer Walk in 2008. “It all started because we wanted to do something to give back and support good causes and, because we knew a lot of people were affected by cancer, we decided to do the first Cancer Walk,” Jablonski said. “It was such a good experience. When you’re a student and you have the freedom to plan an event like this, and you know that you can make a difference in the world, it’s really impactful.” DUNCAN LAKE MIDDLE SCHOOL WAS AWARDED A CAROL VAN ANDEL ANGEL OF EXCELLENCE AWARD IN 2018 FOR THEIR COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT & IMPRESSIVE FUNDRAISING EFFORTS. “This event really shows kids that they can give back to their community and that creating change is doable.” — Elizabeth Alexander “Every year, you can see the sixth-graders falling in love with the event and getting excited about how they can support cancer research and, the cool thing is, when those enthusiastic kids get to eighth-grade, they are the leaders taking charge,” Alexander said. Since the very first Cancer Walk was organized by Jablonski and her classmates, the event has become a source of fun, camaraderie and community that has unified students, teachers and their families and friends behind an important mission. “This event really shows kids that they can give back to their community and that creating change is doable,” Alexander said. “Personally, I lost two family members to cancer in the last few years, and this event is a source of hope — hope that the Institute’s researchers might one day find a treatment or cure that could help people survive.” Jablonski is proud that the Cancer Walk gives so many people hope for the future, and she continues to spread the message all these years later. While in college, Alexander surprised Jablonski by inviting her to speak at a pep rally to say a few words about the event she helped create. Jablonski was shocked that Alexander had remembered her after all these years and that the small event she and her classmates organized had raised more than six figures. “In 2018, we were able to work with more than 80 volunteers and help grassroots fundraisers host 121 events.” — Ashley Owen Elizabeth Alexander, enrichment coordinator at Duncan Lake, has worked for the past decade with students like Jablonski to help them plan their Cancer Walk. Since the very first event, Alexander has been impressed with the students’ ability to take charge of their event and take pride in their work. DUNCAN LAKE MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS CELEBRATE AT THEIR ANNUAL CANCER WALK. “It’s really an inspiration to know that a few kids in middle school can organize an event, raise an impressive amount of money and make a difference in the lives of people living with cancer,” Jablonski said. “I have always believed that you get as much as you give into the world, and these kids are giving a lot.” 48 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018 VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018 | 49

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