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2021 Spring/Summer Highlights of Hope

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  • Cancer
  • School
  • Research
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  • Philanthropy
  • Scientific
  • Vai
  • Institute
  • Rapids
  • Institute
  • Hope
  • Michigan
  • Scientists
  • Virtual
The 2021 Spring/Summer edition of Van Andel Institute's Highlights of Hope donor publication.


PHILANTHROPY Donors Michelle and Kevin Bassett support biomedical research today, bring hope for tomorrow Every donor brings a unique hope, passion and motivation to supporting Van Andel Institute’s work. In the case of Michelle and Kevin Bassett, they began on different paths, but their end goal has always been the same: to support an organization that works tirelessly to give hope and a lasting impact to future generations. For Michelle Bassett, director of research administration at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, it began when she, her two children, and her first husband, Dwight Reed, moved to Grand Rapids in 1999. She was part of a group recruited from the National Cancer Institute to help VAI get its early start, and she worked directly for the Institute’s founding research director, Dr. George Vande Woude. “I moved up here because I believed in Jay Van Andel’s vision, in George Vande Woude’s work,” said Michelle, who worked at the Institute until 2012. “VAI has been such a gift to Grand Rapids and has stimulated so much growth and collaboration.” Just one year after their move to West Michigan, Dwight was diagnosed with softtissue sarcoma and passed away only 20 months later. “Cancer research was my chosen profession, and it became far more real and relevant for me both during Dwight’s illness and after he died,” said Michelle. In Dwight’s memory, his sister and her husband, Dawn and Darryl Schumaker, launched a memorial golf outing. Held annually for a decade, the event raised more than ,000 for VAI’s cancer research efforts. Meanwhile, Kevin Bassett, president of family-owned company Spectrum Industries, began giving to VAI after his brother, Keith, was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma and passed away in December 2013. “Cancer research already had been near and dear to us, and then when Keith lost his battle with renal cell, it became even more real,” said Kevin. Kevin and Michelle, who married in 2006, recognized their shared passion for cancer research and soon decided to include VAI in their will. Their close experiences with disease unfortunately did not end with Keith and Dwight. In August 2017, Michelle was diagnosed with AL cardiac amyloidosis, which affects the heart’s ability to pump blood and is related to a cancer called multiple myeloma. Following seven months of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant in 2018, Michelle is in remission. “Receiving those treatments would not have happened without research. It saved my life,” she said. “The work done at VAI in the last 25 years didn’t necessarily impact my specific outcome, but it contributes to a chain of knowledge that opens up new possibilities.” MICHELLE & KEVIN BASSETT (CENTER) WITH THEIR CHILDREN & GRANDCHILDREN 26 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE

MICHELLE & KEVIN BASSETT “What inspires in us an overwhelming desire to give is the examples of others around Grand Rapids who also give. Other people with deeper pockets give freely of their money, and while we know that our pockets aren’t as deep, our contributions absolutely help along the way.” — Kevin Bassett To learn more about supporting VAI through a planned gift, visit or contact Philanthropy Director Steve Ozinga at or 616.234.5040, or Philanthropy Director Kate Frillmann at or 616.234.5515. Research can advance toward a deeper understanding in the hopes of one day supporting the development of new treatments and clinical trials. Donations help turn an idea into action, and action into change. A VAI scientist has an idea and takes it into the lab for testing, adjustment and data collection, with support from donations and other funding. The dataset grows to a point where large-scale funding can be pursued. Join VAI as a donor. JAY AND BETTY VAN ANDEL CIRCLE OF HOPE The Jay and Betty Van Andel Circle of Hope recognizes individuals and couples, like Michelle and Kevin Bassett, who have notified us that they have included Van Andel Institute in their will or other estate plans. Donations, no matter the amount, can catapult an idea from initial stages in the lab into bigger research efforts. These ideas may one day lead to a deeper understanding of health and disease and help to support the development of new treatments and clinical trials. VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 27

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