VAI Voice

The Official Blog of Van Andel Institute
21 Sep 2016

The Bee Brave 5K: Supporting research and engaging the community

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Passionate fundraisers effect enormous change. Their unique energy can influence peoples’ hearts and minds, transforming them into emotionally-charged supporters. For Pat Ringnalda, race director of the Bee Brave 5K, fundraising is an honor.

“Motivating people around a cause and successful fundraising events both start with a sincere commitment to make a positive impact,” said Ringnalda. “I love the reciprocal process of inspiring people to join a movement and then being inspired by the energy they create. It quickly becomes less about the event organizers and more about people working together to make the world a better place.”

For Ringnalda, fundraising has been a way of life for many years. While her children were growing up, she became very active in her community as the organizer of numerous school fundraisers. In 2007, while participating in a fundraising seminar, Ringnalda had a vision of how she could give back in a big way. Her idea was to organize a 5K to rally enthusiastic runners around a life-saving cause. With this vision, the Bee Brave 5K was born.

On October 8, Ringnalda will head up the ninth annual Bee Brave 5K in partnership with Van Andel Institute’s (VAI) Purple Community. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the race will go directly to the labs at the Institute to support breast cancer research.

Race day also serves as a celebration of the brave women and families affected by breast cancer. The event includes music, door prizes and an award ceremony—all adding up to an impactful experience that is difficult to quantify, and instead must be experienced.

“The Bee Brave 5K has supported the fight against breast cancer since its inception, and has not only been an incredible financial success, but has formed an unshakable sense of community among participants,” said Ringnalda. “I found this same powerful sense of togetherness at a Purple Community event last year and felt compelled to translate the funds raised into local dollars that benefit breast cancer research happening at Van Andel Institute, right here in West Michigan.”

The race takes place just south of Grand Rapids, in Alto, amid the backdrop of gorgeous farm country and an enormous field-stone fire pit. Following the event, women who have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer will introduce themselves and breast cancer survivor, Tammy Myers, will give a brief talk about the physical, mental and emotional effects of the disease.

“Tammy’s story and the conversations among those affected by breast cancer change the mood of an event like this from purposeful to transcendent,” said Ringnalda. “Alongside supporting local research that has a global reach, this event provides a source of strength for attendees that stays with them long after race day.”

For more information on the Bee Brave 5K including how to register visit www.beebrave.com or contact Ashley Owen at 616.234.5390 or ashley.owen@vai.org.