Purple Community Blog

11 Aug 2017

Color Run Hero – Chelsea Westra

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July 29, 2017 was a warm summer July day — picture perfect for The Color Run in Grand Rapids.

Division Avenue runs along the west side of the cascading windows of Van Andel Institute. For the past 6 years, Purple Community volunteers have lined this very street in the early hours of the morning to paint the town purple with The Color Run – Grand Rapids.

Each year we rally together 30+ volunteers who are passionate about Purple Community to join us for “The Happiest 5K on The Planet!”

This year, not only did we bring together an incredible group of volunteers, we were also honored to have one of our very own event hosts serve as the Color Run Hero!

In each city, The Color Run travels to they try to find a Color Run Hero to highlight in a special way—usually at the run leading a color throw from stage or a countdown at the start line. The Color Run Hero is typically an individual selected by the charity partner. This person has a really inspiring story to share about an obstacle they have overcome or a challenge in their life they are currently facing.

When they shared this description, we thought of the hundreds of people we’ve had the privilege of meeting at our events and it was hard to select just ONE person. As we wracked our brains over the course of a week, it became very clear that our dear friend, Team Hope runner, event host, and super mom, Chelsea Westra was a perfect fit.

Chelsea lost her husband, Eric Westra, to a fierce battle with osteosarcoma last spring. Chelsea, their closest friends, and family carry on Eric’s legacy through their golf outing — Eagles for Eric. This year, they are partnering with Van Andel Institute’s Purple Community to raise funds for osteosarcoma research and we are honored.

Chelsea is one brave and kind lady and we feel fortunate to walk alongside her in this journey. When we asked Chelsea to be the hero she jumped at the opportunity to share her story with others and continue to carry on her husband’s legacy. She even shared these beautiful photos of herself and Eric as they danced their way through The Color Run just before Eric’s diagnosis.


This year Chelsea, their beautiful son Arie, and a few close friends and family charged through The Color Run. If you have never witnessed The Color Run yourself, it truly is the happiest 5K on the planet. You cannot help but smile as you run through each color station and you can’t help but dance when you cross the finish line and see color soaring across Calder Plaza.

Chelsea, we hope this day brought you joy and smiles after a tough few months following the 1 year anniversary of Eric’s passing. We are in your corner and always cheering for you.

If you are interested in supporting the Westra Family and Friends, please consider joining us for the Eagles for Eric Golf Outing on Thursday, September 21!

For more information and details visit their page.