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2021 Annual Report

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  • Michigan
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This is the 2021 Annual Report for Van Andel Institute.

Blake Crabb: Meet the

Blake Crabb: Meet the newest JBoard Ambassadors co-chair Van Andel Institute’s JBoard Ambassadors are a group of vibrant young professionals in West Michigan who seek to stay current with and support our work at the Institute. Members are invited to health-science forums, luncheons and mixers throughout the year, where they hear about the latest research and educational innovations at VAI, straight from those who are making it happen. In 2021, VAI’s JBoard welcomed Blake Crabb as co-chair. Crabb is manager of field sales training — oncology at Amgen, and serves alongside long-time co-chair Rachel Mraz in providing leadership to the JBoard. Let’s get to know our newest JBoard co-chair: How did you first become involved with Van Andel Institute? In 2012, my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. A friend invited me to an event where I learned about the research being conducted at VAI. It was at this event that I met my friend — and now my fellow JBoard Co-Chair — Rachel Mraz. What influenced your decision to become a member of the VAI JBoard? I appreciated the tangible ability to make a difference and knowing my involvement would help raise awareness and funds for research that I believe in my heart will lead us to life-changing treatments. What do you hope to accomplish as a JBoard co-chair? I have many goals I would like to accomplish as co-chair. Most importantly, though, is expansion. Expanding our membership will allow us to increase awareness of the work being done at VAI, ultimately leading to more funding for groundbreaking research being done in the labs. The Grand Rapids Metro area is growing, and we have a great opportunity to attract more members along with their positive energy and ideas. In addition to bringing in more young professionals from Grand Rapids, we hope to make more connections on the lakeshore, in places like Grand Haven, Muskegon and Holland. (AT LEFT) BLAKE CRABB 48

PHILANTHROPY What does VAI’s work mean to you? The work being done at VAI gives me hope. Losing a parent to cancer — especially one as aggressive as pancreatic cancer — is something I don’t want anyone to experience. Knowing that every day there are scientists focused on finding ways to treat pancreatic cancer earlier and more effectively means that, one day, fewer people will have to say goodbye to a loved one. What would you say to someone on the fence about joining VAI’s JBoard? What are you waiting for?! Get involved! Unfortunately, most of us know someone that has faced cancer, Parkinson’s or another devastating disease. Getting involved with the JBoard means you get the opportunity to help raise awareness and funds for the research being done at VAI, and we have a lot of fun doing it with events throughout the year! What is your favorite event hosted by or in support of VAI? All of the VAI events are awesome and unique. There’s such a talented team behind the scenes that makes every event a memorable occasion. Hope on the Hill is my favorite, and I look forward to it every year! Over the years we’ve had so many creative and fun themes, and I love seeing what’s next. Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience on the JBoard or with the Institute? VAI has taken hope from concept to reality. The feeling of hope we all have is shared by the dedicated scientists that have come from all over the world to study and work right here in Grand Rapids. Every time I walk into VAI, hope is palpable and thriving! For more information about VAI’s JBoard Ambassadors, including how to get involved, visit bit.ly/VAIJBoard. (STARTING AT TOP) BLAKE CRABB & HIS MOTHER, BONNIE; BLAKE CRABB (RIGHT) & JARED GRAYBIEL AT COUTURE FOR A CURE 49

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