Fifth Third River Bank Run


This event has passed. Thank you to everyone who came out to support Purple Community!  

Join Purple Community Team Hope and help support cancer, Parkinson’s, and other neurodegenerative disease research happening right here in West Michigan, while making a global impact.

Help us raise awareness, celebrate those living with cancer or Parkinson’s disease, and honor loved ones who have passed away by supporting research that gives hope to patients and families around the world.

The Fight

Running a race of ANY distance is an incredible undertaking in and of itself and requires a tremendous amount of physical and mental endurance and motivation. Why not give yourself an added boost of motivation by running in honor or memory of someone in your life that has faced a cancer or Parkinson’s disease journey?

When you sign up to run with Purple Community Team Hope on behalf of Van Andel Institute (VAI), we will be with you every step of the way! You will have access to fitness training, an amazing team of supporters, and the best part? Absolutely 100% of every single dollar you raise will go directly to cancer and Parkinson’s disease research happening at Van Andel Institute.

Thanks to an endowment established by our founders, Jay & Betty Van Andel, every donation we receive goes straight to the labs, to increase the rate of discovery and help us to find new treatments for these devastating diseases.

The Commitment

The Fifth Third River Bank Run is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, and Van Andel Institute is honored to be an official charity partner. The commitment to Purple Community Team Hope is a simple one. Raise at least $100 by race day, and have the opportunity to take advantage of some pretty spectacular team perks!

The Perks

Purple Community offers exciting benefits to our team members including:

  • Purple Community swag
  • Invitation to attend team events throughout the year
  • Personal fundraising website on CrowdRise and materials to assist you in reaching your fundraising goal
  • Opportunity to participate in training programs (based on fundraising commitment)
  • Regular email updates and training tips
  • Access to bathrooms and secured storage of car keys at Van Andel Institute on race day and easy walking access to Michigan Ave. to find the start line in front of the DeVos Place
  • For our TOP FUNDRAISERS, access to park in the VAI guest lot on Crescent and Division on race day
  • And so much more!

That’s not all! We will also be offering fantastic prizes! At each fundraising level, you will have the chance to receive:

  • $100 – Purple Community Team Hope tech shirt
  • $250 – Purple Community Team Hope tech shirt and water bottle
  • $500 – Purple Community Team Hope tech shirt, water bottle, and complimentary entry into the Purple Community 5K on April 29, 2017
  • $1,000 – All the above PLUS an official Purple Community Team Hope jacket
  • $2,500 – All of the above PLUS private lunch and tour for up to 8 people at Van Andel Institute
  • TOP FUNDRAISERS will have the opportunity to park in the VAI visitor lot located at Crescent and Division on Race Day (space is limited!)
  • ADD $100 to your $100 minimum goal and have the opportunity to participate in the Gazelle Sports Training Program (Van Andel Institute covers the cost, you just hit your fundraising goal!)
The Process

To learn more about joining Purple Community Team Hope, click here

To download our team application, click here.

To set up your fundraising page, click here
Having trouble setting up or managing your CrowdRise Fundraising Page? Contact their customer support at or 248.291.6897.

Road Warriors

2017 is the 12th Anniversary of the Fifth Third River Bank Run Road Warrior program! Each year, the public (within a 45 mile radius of Grand Rapids) is invited to apply to become event ambassadors while training with coaches for the 25K, 10K and 5K events on the second Saturday of May. The Road Warriors are selected by a panel after personal interviews. All 13 Road Warriors represent the Fifth Third River Bank Run at community events and blog on the social media of choice about the ups and downs of training for a long distance road race in Michigan.

Meet our road warriors!

Meet Rorybeth

Meet Sarah

I started running years ago! When I started it was for the “me time” and in an effort to get healthier. I am a wife, a mother and I work part time. Being a wife and mom are my number one priorities, and by far my favorite jobs! For them, I want to be the best and healthiest person I can be.

When I first saw the advertisement to be a Road Warrior I thought, why not try it. Who wouldn’t LOVE to have the opportunity to be expertly trained in something you already enjoy. Even though I have been running for years, I am by no means experienced or advanced runner. I have completed many 5K’s, but never pushed myself further than that.

In years past, I’ve run the River Bank Run with my Mom. Running was something that we had in common and both enjoyed. Unfortunately, this past August my mom lost her battle to pancreatic cancer.

By being a 2017 Road Warrior I am;

  • Continuing something we both enjoyed
  • Staying healthy, for both myself and my family
  • Raising money and awareness with my charity partner, Purple Community, to help fight this disease that affects so many.

Completing a 10k is something I know I can do. By doing it with an encouraging and supportive team this is something I know I finally WILL do!

Last spring, following a Hills & Hops workout, I was at Buffalo Wild Wings feeling devastated. I was a Fifth Third River Bank Run 25K Road Warrior in 2016. And, on that particular night, the Road Warrior coaches advised me not to continue with my goal of completing the 25k, as I was injured. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHowever, I wasn’t devastated because I was injured, but because I felt like I was returning to the old version of Sarah that was over 400 pounds and was slowly dying. It was shocking to my system, as I had not felt that way in a couple years. Actually, not since before I had bariatric surgery in 2014 and slowly changed my life.

You see, I am not the traditional runner. I was super-morbidly obese for the majority of my life and I saw myself as someone that lived inside her comfort zone and was failing at life. Until one day when I wondered if I could run. I have no idea where this thought came from as “running” was not a word in my vocabulary. But the next thing I knew, I was increasing the speed on the treadmill and I was running! It only lasted about 30 seconds, but those 30 seconds had a huge impact on my life. Surgery was the moment I saved my life; running is when I started to live my life. Running for those 30 seconds made me believe that there was a whole world of things that I could do, if I wanted try. That is the reason I became a Fifth Third River Bank Run Road Warrior in 2016.

I firmly believe that goals do not change, only the timeline for completing them changes. Since last spring, I have completed a couple half marathons and a marathon, but the 25K is still on my goal list.  That is why I made the decision to come back as 2017 Fifth Third River Bank Run 25K Road Warrior. I will finish the 40th Fifth Third River Bank Run!

My goal as Road Warrior is to continue to inspire people to try something they didn’t think was possible. I also want to show that we can all reach our goals when life gets in the way.  The important part is that that we keep going and don’t give up on our goals.


Purple Community Team Hope and Fifth Third River Bank Run Questions?

Contact Ashley Owen, Senior Event Coordinator, at or 616.234.5390. See you at the finish line!