On Monday, December 10th, sixteen members of the OHS Purple Event Committee traveled to Van Andel Institute for the official check presentation. They were treated to lunch and a tour and special presentation from Dr. Bart Williams, Director for the Center for Cancer and Cell Biology and Program for Skeletal Disease and Tumor Microenvironment. He explained the structure of Van Andel Institute, the research taking place at the facility and how Purple Community funds are used to help researchers reach discoveries and develop advancements in treatments for cancer and Parkinson’s disease.
They spent months working on the Purple Week activities, selling t-shirts, planning events and helping coordinate sponsors; being able to take this trip to Van Andel helped them see exactly where their efforts go. “Knowing that the money we raised is helping advance cancer research is a great feeling I can’t even explain,” says junior Lauren Layman, “Going to the Van Andel Institute was amazing and to be able to actually hear from one of the scientists who is involved in the research made it a realization. I’m so excited to see how much the research will grow in the years ahead.”
“I really enjoyed visiting Van Andel in Grand Rapids and learning how our money made an impact on cancer research,” says freshman Ali Janke. “It was so cool to meet people who were so passionate about their research and loved their job!”
“The trip was a very good reflection on the things that actually happen behind the scenes of cancer research,” adds freshman Abby Miles.
They also met Carol Van Andel, executive director of the David and Carol Van Andel Family Foundation. She spoke with the students about their connections with the cause, asked them about Purple Week at Otsego and thanked them for all they do while sharing with them the real impact they are making on cancer research. She was impressed with this year’s total donation which came in at $28,314,39. This year’s fundraising total brings Otsego’s total giving, over the five events, to more than $100,000. Reaching that milestone was one of the goals of this year’s committee.
“Personally, I have been affected by cancer and Parkinson’s. So, this group means a lot to me and was motivation to raise as much money as possible for such a great cause,” says senior Jaekob Sallee. Purple is such a great movement in Otsego.”
“My experience on the purple committee was very eye opening,” says junior Noah Grile, “It made me feel good about what we were pushing for because I know the negative effect that cancer has in so many people’s lives and helping to find a cure would change that.”
September 24-29 marked the 2018 Purple Week at Otsego. All home athletic events - soccer, volleyball, swim, football, cross country, cheer and tennis - featured athletes wearing purple instead of the usual blue and gold. The marching band also went purple, a first for Purple Community. The soccer, volleyball, tennis, cheer, football and middle school cross country teams displayed names on the backs of their uniform shirts that honored a loved one, either in their own families or from someone in the community, who has been impacted by cancer. This year’s event also featured downtown light post banners honoring loved ones, personal testimonials in the Community Shoppers Guide, a billboard, community night and kids carnival, Pizza Hut Dine to Donate night and much more. There were also 33 local business sponsors for this year’s event, another new Otsego record.
“This is truly a community effort and community event in Otsego,” says Holly McCaw, Director of Communications at OPS, “So many people have personal stories when it comes to cancer and it has become a way for people to honor a loved one or help in some way. This event was successful because of the hundreds of people who want to be a part of something bigger and make a difference. We are incredibly thankful for everyone who donated.”
The next Purple Week in Otsego will be in September 2020.