Purple Community Blog

21 Dec 2017

Farewell to 2017! What a year!

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2017 was quite the year for Purple Community. With the tremendous support of all of our amazing community partners, we were able to raise an astounding and record breaking $622,827, making this our best year EVER! We surpassed our original fundraising goal by over $347,000!

From existing partnerships to building new community connections, we are thrilled to have been involved in over 140 events in 2017. Being a part of so many events with only a two person full-time staff would not have been possible if it were not for the passionate event hosts, amazing volunteers, and driven interns who supported us.

Special thank you to interns Elena (GVSU), Delaney (GVSU), Cheyann (CMU), Michelle (Kuyper College/Army Reserves) and Allyson (Aquinas College) for contributing their time and energy to growing the program while juggling their final college courses. Our team is so grateful for the chance to have gotten to know these young women and we wish them the best as they start their careers. We are also excited to welcome our newest interns, Abbey and Katherine, who will be with us in 2018!

As we said “farewells” to our 2017 interns, one had the opportunity to begin her career here at the Institute! Allyson became a full time staff member on Van Andel Institute’s (VAI) Development Team in September, specializing in Volunteer and Community Relations with plans to continue developing our volunteer program.

As we welcomed a new staff member, our team is sad to announce we will also be losing one in the New Year. Purple Community Event Coordinator, Hannah, has accepted a position to further her career in marketing and will be relocating to Louisiana in 2018. The program has benefited an invaluable amount from Hannah’s presence and we will miss her dearly. We wish her all the very best as she begins her new journey down south!

Since May, our Purple Community Cabinet members have been working diligently to build out subcommittees to support the work of our event hosts. With introductory committee meetings taking place this past fall, our Volunteer, Marketing/PR, and Events subcommittees are ready to hit the ground running in 2018. Our team is excited to watch the ideas of these brilliant community leaders and volunteers come full-circle to help take our purple program to the next level.

We cannot thank you enough for your tremendous ongoing support of Purple Community, and helping us to raise vital funds for cancer and neurodegenerative disease research at Van Andel Institute!


Our team is absolutely blown away by the efforts of our community partners, event hosts, volunteers, cabinet and subcommittee members in spreading our mission and raising funds for VAI. The program’s success has truly been a team effort, but we are incredibly thankful to have the determination of Ashley Owen, Senior Event Coordinator of Purple Community, leading the way! Looking forward to seeing you in 2018!