11 months ago

2019 Spring/Summer Highlights of Hope


PHILANTHROPY CELEBRATING A LEGACY OF RESEARCH EVENT HONORS THE LEGACY OF A WOMAN WHO DEDICATED HER LIFE TO RESEARCH Kathleen Drennan rode her bike 13 miles along her favorite path around Chicago’s Lake Michigan shoreline on the day before she passed away in 2013. Cycling was her passion, and she refused to let cancer get in the way of one of her greatest joys. The disease entered her life in the late 1970s when she was raising a young son and building a career in medical research. Drennan beat back cancer five times throughout her life, but never once did she let it determine how she lived. In October, 50 of Kathleen’s closest friends and family participated in the Kathleen and Van Andel Institute — Celebrating a Legacy of Research event in Chicago, and 24 cyclists rode along the same path Drennan loved so dearly. Her son, Patrick Brady, and Kathleen’s niece, Caroline Redeker, helped organize the event that raised more than ,000 to benefit cancer research at Van Andel Institute (VAI). Dr. Bart Williams, director of the Institute's Center for Cancer and Cell Biology, gave a presentation for those in attendance, and discussed his work and the different ways VAI is fighting back against cancer. Brady views the day as a fitting way to honor his mother’s memory and bring attention to the Institute’s research. STARTING AT THE TOP, LEFT TO RIGHT) PATRICK BRADY & DR. BART WILLIAMS; KATHLEEN DRENNAN; CYCLISTS AFTER THE RIDE IN HONOR OF KATHLEEN DRENNAN. “My mother raised me in West Michigan and spent most of her life working in clinical research — beginning her career at Upjohn in Kalamazoo and then making her way to Chicago, where she founded the Chicago Center for Clinical Research,” Brady said. “She was very passionate about the importance of biomedical research, and she had a particular focus on helping women and minority communities.” Drennan’s life-long passion for research led her to be an active supporter of the Institute’s mission as a donor and frequent guest at the annual Hope on the Hill Gala. A Michigan native, she was proud that such great work was taking place in the region she called home for so many years. “Our family was excited to hear about the Institute from the moment it was founded,” Brady said. “So when my mom died, I wanted to continue to support her love for clinical research. There was no doubt in my mind that the Institute was the perfect place to do it.” Brady regards the Institute as a shining light of hope in Grand Rapids and feels connected to its mission. As the son of a parent who fought bravely against the ravages of cancer, Brady is focused on the event's ultimate impact on the future, and how the event's funds might help people who are fighting for their lives. “My mom was a wonderful mother and grandmother, and she lived her life helping others,” Brady said. “My passion is her passion, and I know that we can continue to honor my mom’s legacy and work together to eradicate this devastating disease that in one way or another affects us all.” 28 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE

MY CAUSE, MY CLEATS DENVER BRONCO’S JARED VELDHEER REPS THE INSTITUTE’S PARKINSON’S RESEARCH ON AND OFF THE FIELD While the crowd of thousands roared, and players crashed into one another during a game against the Cleveland Browns, Bronco’s offensive tackle Jared Veldheer wore a special pair of cleats with Van Andel Institute’s logo and the words "Parkinson’s" and "100% to research, discovery and hope" emblazoned on the sides. He played that night in front of a national television audience, knowing that his cleats were designed for a very specific and special purpose — to pay tribute to his greatgrandfather and grandfather, who both died of complications from Parkinson’s disease. Two days earlier, Jared’s father, Jim Veldheer, held the cleats closely in his arms during Van Andel Institute’s (VAI) Public Lecture Series: A Focus on Parkinson’s Disease. After the event, Jim met with Dr. Patrik Brundin, the Institute's associate director of research and director of the Center for Neurodegenerative Science. It was an opportunity for Veldheer to showcase the efforts of his son and meet with one of the world’s most highly regarded Parkinson’s experts. “It’s really amazing that we have a worldclass Parkinson’s research center right here in my hometown in West Michigan,” Veldheer said. “Having educational forums where people can come and get information is really great for our community. As the son of a father who died from Parkinson’s, I especially appreciated seeing scientists speaking directly to people who were personally affected by this disease.” “Jared has always been a very philanthropic person, and for years, he hosted a football camp and donated the proceeds to benefit heart screenings for high school athletes,” Veldheer said. “Now that Jared's season is over, I would love for him to visit the Institute and meet with Dr. Brundin and hear from scientists who are doing this incredible research.” “It’s really amazing that we have a world-class Parkinson’s research center right here in my hometown in West Michigan ...” - Jim Veldheer Initiatives like the NFL’s My Cause, My Cleats and generous athletes like Jared Veldheer help create a powerful network of awareness that supports great science and gives hope to those who continue to battle Parkinson's long after the last field goal has been scored and the bright lights dim on the gridiron. DR. PATRIK BRUNDIN & JIM VELDHEER Jared wore the VAI-themed cleats when he took the field during two regular season games, and the NFL auctioned them off and donated 100% of the proceeds to the Institute’s Center for Neurodegenerative Science. Jim is proud of his son’s career in the NFL and willingness to support causes he cares about. VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 29

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